Boston self-driving auto start-up nuTonomy inks $450M Delphi deal

Muriel Hammond
October 26, 2017

Its focus has been on applying artificial-intelligence expertise to the development of software for self-driving vehicles. Nutonomy adds over a 100 employees to Delphi's rank where over 100 people already work on autonomous vehicles.

The deal won't affect any of the partnerships either company has agreed to, meaning nuTonomy's highly-publicized Boston project with Lyft will proceed as planned, and its alliances with ride-hailing company Grab and Peugeot parent company Groupe PSA in Singapore are still intact. It has been running a pilot of its own self-driving taxi service in Singapore for a little over a year.

The company will pay up to $50 million more in earn-outs depending on how well the acquisition turns out.

Delphi said Tuesday that it was buying nuTonomy, an autonomous-car startup born out of MIT.

Delphi Chief Technology Officer Glen DeVos says nuTonomy brings advanced software and fleet management experience to the table. While both software stacks utilize a deterministic framework, there are differences in the environmental modeling and path planning elements (what's around the vehicle and how the vehicle decides the safest route to its destination). Those vehicles, DeVos said, will be heavily automated and used in pre-mapped areas in cities. He described the acquisition as a "game changer".

A driver, right, gets his hands off of the steering wheel of an autonomous vehicle during its test drive in Singapore.

Delphi, Mobileye, and Intel demonstrated their prototype self-driving system in Las Vegas in January. The fact that nuTonomy's platform can be readily adapted to different auto types is a big plus for Delphi, which presumably hopes to sell the system to multiple automakers with varying technical requirements.

Delphi acquired Ottomatika in 2015.

Delphi Automotive (DLPH) has announced an agreement to acquire nuTonomy for up to $450 million in upfront and contingent consideration. "And we have conduits, pathways, to selling it to all the various businesses that autonomous driving can impact, through traditional OEM channels, and through mobility services".

That spinoff, set to happen in the first quarter of 2018, will create two publicly traded companies: the legacy business, to be called Delphi Technologies, and the future-tech business, which will take the new name Aptiv.

This is the most recent acquisition involving a handshake of millions of dollars, in the industry related to automated driving.

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