Safety will be a major theme for Delphi Automotive Systems Corp. at the SAE 2000 World Congress in Detroit this week. Jeff Owens, general director of engineering for Delphi Delco Electronics Systems, recently spoke with Automotive News Staff Reporter Susan Carney about the future of vehicle safety. Edited excerpts follow:
Delphi is putting a lot of emphasis on integrated safety systems. How long will it be before integrated systems are in vehicles?
I don't know that that's a job that's ever done. The standards are changing. The expectations are changing from the market. And clearly the technology is changing. Just the digital revolution allows a lot of it to get hooked up and integrated quicker than ever before. There are vehicles out today and will be out in the next model year that have a great deal of the integration we're talking about. But there's still much more to come.
What is the long-term outlook for safety in the industry?
Safety sells vehicles. Consumers want safer vehicles; as the technology enables that to be provided at a relatively low cost trade-off, they're willing to pay for it. The amount of information that's coming into and out of the cockpit is mushrooming. A lot of us have cell phones; we've got pagers; we've got personal digital assistants; and that's just the tip of the iceberg. The appetite for that will come very fast if that can be done safely.
That's a lot of things in the car to divert a driver's attention. How can you make sure that it's safe?
The challenge is to get the information flow integrated into the vehicle in such a fashion that it is safe. The problem is each of us has a different threshold for overload. But one thing's for sure: If you let it all come in ad hoc - a cell phone here, a personal digital assistant here, Internet service here, a newspaper there - if it's not integrated, it's going to be much less safe.
What do you see 10 years from now when it comes to safety?
What I'd like to see is cars that don't have accidents, period.