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Delphi, Transdev to develop self-driving transport service in Europe

FILE PHOTO: An autonomous car from Delphi departs Treasure Island for a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York City in San Francisco, California, U.S. on March 22, 2015. REUTERS/Stephen Lam/File Photo

By Paul Lienert

DETROIT (Reuters) - Delphi Automotive PLC (DLPH.N) will partner with Paris-based Transdev Group, a public transport service controlled by the French government, to develop an automated on-demand shuttle service in Europe, the companies said on Wednesday.

In a joint statement, Delphi and Transdev said they will test driverless vehicles in Normandy and outside Paris, in advance of building a commercial service, starting in 2019, that could be deployed in other markets, including North America.

It would be the first such commercial application on public roads of fully automated vehicles, they said.

The Delphi-Transdev partnership will provide "a clear path to commercializing automated mobility on demand," said Glen De Vos, Delphi's chief technology officer, in a media briefing.

Delphi is contributing a self-driving system that it has been developing with Israeli mapping and vision expert Mobileye NV (MBLY.N), which is being acquired by U.S. chipmaker Intel Corp (INTC.O).

Transdev will manage the project and will provide ticketing, dispatch, routing and remote control-command services, the companies' statement said.

French automaker Renault SA (RENA.PA) will supply the venture with Zoe electric minicars, according to Yann Leriche, Transdev's chief performance officer.

The test phase will start later this year with two Zoe minicars in Rouen in Normandy and a shuttle bus in the Paris suburb of Saclay, Leriche told the media briefing.

Initially, the vehicles will have "safety" drivers on board, but the plan is to move quickly next year to tests of fully driverless vehicles that are remotely controlled and monitored by human operators, he added.

Delphi has been building its expertise and capability in self-driving vehicles through partnerships, investments and acquisitions.

Several of its affiliates will participate in the project with Transdev, including Ottomatika (vehicle control software), Control-Tec (real-time data analytics) and Movimento (over-the-air software updates).

Transdev, a mobility services provider, operates public and private transport services in 19 countries.

The company is controlled by Caisse des Depots, an investment arm of the French government. Veolia Environnement SA (VIE.PA), the French waste management company, holds a 30-percent stake.

The Delphi-Transdev partnership is the latest in a growing web of global alliances aimed at putting self-driving vehicles on the road over the next four years.

In May, German automaker BMW AG (BMWG.DE) announced that Delphi will join it in a self-driving partnership that includes Intel and Mobileye.

(Reporting by Paul Lienert; Editing by W Simon)