Photo: AP

In recent years, auto supplier Delphi has been working at a breakneck speed to position itself for the automotive industry of the futureā€”embracing the high-tech gadgetry thatā€™s expected to become commonplace in the coming years. On Tuesday, the company further bolstered its position by announcing a $450 million deal to acquire nuTonomy, a self-driving car startup that already has robotaxis testing on the road today.

Founded in 2013, nuTonomy has been working on developing a fully-autonomous technology to be equipped in cars, having already launched test cars in Boston and Singapore.

Delphiā€™s chief technical officer, Glenn De Vos, said on a conference call with reporters Tuesday morning, that it envisions deploying autonomous technology in a commercial space, before eventually ending up in the consumer market. For nuTonomy, the startup already is positioned to capitalize on that gameplan, having inked a partnership earlier this year with ride-hailing network Lyft to test self-driving cars in Boston.

ā€œAD platforms are incredibly complex with many technical challenges, and the addition of nuTonomy and their critical IP helps us deepen our capabilities and accelerate our overall time-to-market,ā€ De Vos wrote in a blog post.


The deal is expected to allow nuTonomy to hire an additional 100 employees, including 70 engineers and scientists, whoā€™ll join Delphiā€™s 100-strong autonomous driving unit. By the end of the year, Delphi says itā€™ll have 60 autonomous cars testing in cities across three continents.

The price tag for Delphiā€™s purchase isnā€™t uncommon nowadays, as automakers and tech companies have been working at a ferocious pace to bring autonomous cars to life. Uber, in 2016, purchased self-driving truck startup Otto for a reported $680 million; in August, Intel paid more than $15 billion for autonomous tech developer and chipmaker Mobileye.

But the move shows Delphi, a textbook traditional auto supplier, is serious about embracing the autonomous future of cars, however that may transpire. In a profile by The New York Times earlier this year, the companyā€™s chief executive, Kevin Clark, said he envisions Delphi serving as a networking supplier of numerous components for tech-heavy cars, including wiring and software.


ā€œItā€™s the intelligent architecture that allows all the advanced safety systems, all the autonomous driving software, all the infotainment software to operate effectively,ā€ Clark told the Times.

Now, with nuTonomoy, Delphiā€™s closer to nailing down the autonomous driving aspect of that equation. Delphi says its deal nuTonomoy is expected to close by the end of the year.