On Tuesday, Delphi Automotive joined BMW AG, Intel Corp. and Mobileye as a partner in the co-development of an autonomous platform to be offered to carmakers.
Partnerships aren’t new, but this arrangement is novel. The goal is to develop self-driving tech on a "much broader, more accessible open basis so that each OEM doesn’t have to develop from scratch or do the heavy lifting," said Kathy Winter, Intel’s vice president of autonomous driving, on a call with media to announce the news.
Two years ago, Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne delivered a presentation lambasting the industry for its fragmented approach to r&d and calling for massive consolidation to meet investment demands. His conclusions did not spur massive consolidation, but in respect to autonomous development, his key observation seems to have taken hold.
"There are value creation opportunities and contributions that come from a lot of different directions and it doesn’t follow that normal, traditional tiered structure that we’re all very familiar and comfortable with," said Glen De Vos, Delphi's chief technology officer. "It follows a very new model."
But with new models come old questions that the executives struggled to answer: Where will the money go? Or as one reporter put it, regarding questions of intellectual property, revenue streams, licensing and more: “It sounds like this is getting very messy.”
We often hear of the benefits autonomous tech will bring, and this type of development is encouraging for smaller carmakers and those concerned about the equitable distribution of technological advancement.
But keep in mind that self-driving cars are fundamentally a business. When revenue starts rolling in, watch for how the pie is divided. That's the balance sheet that shows who the winners are in the industry.
– Shiraz Ahmed