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Delphi to add 100 jobs to self-driving operations in Pittsburgh area

Aaron Aupperlee
| Thursday, Aug. 31, 2017, 6:00 p.m.
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
John F. Martin for Delphi Automotive
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
John F. Martin for Delphi Automotive
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
John F. Martin for Delphi Automotive
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)
John F. Martin for Delphi Automotive
Delphi has begun working in Pittsburgh on a self-driving prototype. Delphi and partners The BMW Group, Intel and Mobileye will be in production by 2021 and will sell autonomous vehicles to other car companies and industries. (Photo by John F. Martin for Delphi)

A major auto supplier developing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh is growing its presence in the region.

Delphi will create about 100 jobs in the next six to nine months, the company's CTO Glen De Vos told the Tribune-Review on Thursday.

“We've got a full plate ahead for the team here,” De Vos said.

The additional 100 employees will build on the 50 to 60 engineers already working on autonomous vehicle technology for Delphi in the area.

Delphi hopes to have its self-driving technology in wide use on the road by 2019 and could potentially operate cars without safety drivers by the end of 2019 or early 2020, De Vos said.

Delphi jumped into the race to develop self-driving cars in 2015 when it bought Ottomatika, a Carnegie Mellon University spinoff company that designed software for autonomous vehicles. The Michigan company took over Ottomatika's space at the RIDC Industrial Park in O'Hara.

De Vos said the company is seeking new office space closer to Downtown and the universities in Oakland as it expands its presence and ramps up design and production.

“This is great news from Delphi, and further validation of Pittsburgh's global leadership in autonomous vehicle technology. As the industry grows, job growth is following too,” Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said in a statement.

Pittsburgh's position as an epicenter of self-driving technology has brought hundreds of jobs to the city. Uber has hired more than 700 since opening its Advanced Technology Center in Pittsburgh. Argo AI, a Pittsburgh-startup in which Ford invested $1 billion for self-driving car assistance, is hiring, as is Aurora Innovation, a company founded by top self-driving engineers from Google, Uber and Tesla.

Delphi has been quietly testing self-driving cars in Pittsburgh for nearly a year. De Vos said that will change as the company becomes more open about its self-driving technology. He said Delphi will also stress the Ottomatika brand and its contribution to autonomous technology. De Vos said Delphi typically stays quiet about technology until it is ready for the market. Self-driving is different. The public has to feel comfortable around the cars.

“What we've recognized is that for autonomous driving in particular, this is an area where it helps to be a little more visible,” De Vos said.

The company in May announced it was teaming up with BMW to develop autonomous systems for the German automaker. De Vos said Delphi is adding autonomous driving technology to several BMW 5 Series cars and testing them in Pittsburgh. Delphi hopes to outfit 10 to 20 more BMWs in Pittsburgh in the next couple of months and 40 to 50 vehicles running tests in different parts of the world by the end of the year.

Pittsburgh will be the heart of the operation, De Vos said.

“All of the vehicle design and the vehicle assembly is done in Pittsburgh,” De Vos said.

Delphi's autonomous engineering stable already included partnerships with Intel and Mobileye, an Israeli company that designs vision systems for cars.

Unlike Uber's fleet of self-driving Volvo SUVs, Delphi's test vehicles have subtle self-driving hardware. The Delphi cars do not sport whirling LIDAR units on their roofs, instead they use six LIDAR units around the vehicle. Delphi cars also have six radar units and six to eight cameras.

De Vos said Delphi produces technology that can be integrated into an auto manufacturer's design.

De Vos hopes they can fill many of the 100 positions with local talent. CMU will be a big part of its hiring strategy, De Vos said. Delphi also expects to expand its work with CMU in 2018.

Right now, Delphi collaborates on and funds a handful of projects at the university. De Vos hopes to expand Delphi's investment to go beyond project work.

Aaron Aupperlee is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at aaupperlee@tribweb.com, 412-336-8448 or via Twitter @tinynotebook.

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