One Hell of a Ride

One Hell of a Ride

March 1, 2017
by Jeff Owens, recently retired Chief Technology Officer

The massive disruption that is fundamentally changing our transportation system arrived much more quickly than experts anticipated and is accelerating at a rate much more rapidly than anyone would have guessed.

Moore’s law has taken hold of the car.

And it’s pretty awesome. Awesome means more than just cool. It’s monumental, huge and quite frankly, breath taking.

As I look back in the rearview mirror of my 40+ year career with Delphi, which started with putting the first computer in a car, continued with putting the first radar in a car and finally, launching the first self-driving car to drive coast-to-coast across the United States, my career has seen incredible advances in safety, connectivity and reduced emissions.

Most of this change can be traced back to faster microprocessors and software. Technology industry players are disrupting the traditional automotive marketplace by leveraging the power of software. But are they getting more than they bargained for? Creating software for an app on your phone is very different than creating software that will safely drive a car.

The barriers to entry have also changed. The traditional automotive business is capital and labor intensive with long development, validation and testing cycles – high barriers to entry. Just the opposite of a software-based business, with low barriers to entry.

As more and more of a car’s functionality is enabled by software and high-speed microprocessors, the game is changing and new players seem to emerge daily in this convergence of automotive and tech. It’s the implementation and integration that can be an incredibly challenging engineering feat – enter Delphi.

Delphi has always worked to be the best bridge between the automotive and technology world. We can live in both worlds – we speak both languages. We ship 30 billion lines of code every day, soon to be 200 billion lines of code shipped daily. We also know the inside and outside of the sensors that help a car ‘see’ (radar, vision, LiDAR), the super computers that act as the ‘brains,’ the two miles of cable and connectors that act as the nervous system and enable the distribution of high speed data, as well as all the other complexities and requirements needed to deliver safety, efficiency, connectivity and power.

I look forward to seeing this connected future with no emissions, no vehicle accidents or fatalities and I wonder, will my future grandchildren even need to get their drivers’ license?

Before that time arrives, the advances in technology, the crazy pace of new partnerships, start-ups, acquisitions and mergers will continue to increase and I know that Delphi will remain in the center of these two world’s as they race towards a driverless future.

I started my career in an automotive company… and end it in a technology company. It’s been one hell of a ride and I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

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