Singapore Selects Delphi Automotive to Demonstrate Urban Driverless Technology

Delphi Automotive (DLPH) said it has been hired by the Singapore government to undertake a project demonstrating driverless transportation technology through 2020.

The demonstration will take place in a square mile urban area known as 1 North, which includes about four miles of roads, connecting residences and businesses. The pilot vehicles will be limited to travel no faster than 25 miles per hour and will be confined by a "geofence" -- a digital barrier defining the borders of the project.

Delphi declined to provide the value of its contract with Singapore's Land Transport Authority. The automotive supplier's proposal triumphed over those of other competitors, whose identities the government didn't reveal. The company said it intends to transition from pilot testing to operational service by 2022.

The automotive supplier, whose operational headquarters are in Auburn Hills, Mich., said its technology is "vehicle agnostic and can be applied to passenger cars, commercial vehicles, trucks and purpose built mobility pods" for people or cargo.

Delphi gained international attention in March 2015 when it collaborated with Audi on a coast-to-coast U.S. demonstration of driverless technology. The pace of driverless and autonomous projects by automakers and technology companies has accelerated since.

The project will begin, Delphi said, in a "fairly small, controlled manner, but it will be very visible." An operational fleet will expand to about 40 to 50 vehicles as confidence in its safety and utility grows, the company said. The first pilot vehicles could resemble those developed by Google, using conventional cars fitted with sensors. Eventually, the mobility pods should be fully driverless, lacking even manual steering controls or brakes.

Glen DeVos, vice president of Delphi business services unit that looks for opportunities in autonomous technology, said: "We are looking to take what we learn in Singapore and apply it globally," especially to metropolitan areas seeking advanced mobility systems.

The company said it intends to announce similar projects in American and European cities by the end of the year.

Singapore is regarded as one of the world's most advanced cities in terms of its focus on modern solutions to enhance comfort, ease of movement, commerce, cleanliness and sustainability.

A former parts subsidiary of General Motors, Delphi filed for bankruptcy in 2005 and was reorganized in part by private equity funding, becoming a public company domiciled in the U.K. in 2011. It shed a number of commodity businesses, such as steering and radiators, while investing in high-tech automotive supply businesses that related to safety, environmental controls and connected systems.

The price of the stock is up more than three-fold during the company's five-year history since going public. In the past year, its shares have fallen about 13% in value.

Doron Levin is the host of "In the Driver Seat," broadcast on SiriusXM Insight 121, Saturday at noon, encore Sunday at 9 a.m.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor. At the time of publication, the author held no positions in the stocks mentioned.

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