DETROIT – Delphi President and CEO Rodney O’Neal calls the parts-making giant’s position on the debate over autonomous vehicles “agnostic,” saying the vision and sensing technologies making it possible already exists on cars and trucks today.

In short, the company will be selling the technologies whether or not driverless cars come to fruition.

“We could debate all day long  whether it makes sense for society and whether it makes sense economically,” O’Neal tells WardsAuto on the sidelines of the ITS World Congress here and a few short days after Delphi said it would be the first manufacturer to mass-market vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technologies.

“The technology is alive and well. It’s here now,” he says of V2V and V2I communication, which experts see clearing the way for automated driving. “That’s clearly in our sweet spot and, as a result, we are somewhat agnostic in terms of having the vehicle autonomous or not.”

Delphi said Friday its wireless vehicle communication technology will extend the range of existing advanced driver-assistance-system functionality, using radio signals to transmit traffic data from vehicle to vehicle to alert drivers of potential road hazards.

“The ability to detect and signal to the driver of danger ahead is a significant leap toward improving driver safety and traffic management,” Jeff Owens, chief technology officer at Delphi, said last week announcing the rollout. “This technology also strategically positions Delphi to help automakers meet potential government regulations related to V2V communications for automated driving.”

But Delphi already provides the vision and radar systems, such as lane-keeping and adaptive cruise control, that warn drivers of a threat. The V2V technology goes a step further with cars using radio signals to share information about local road conditions.

The supplier expects to market the technology to automakers around the world beginning in 2016 in North America. Its first customer is General Motors, which on Sunday kicked off ITS by announcing the addition of intelligent vehicle systems to a pair of Cadillac models in the 2017 timeframe.

“This concept of (crash) prevention is agnostic,” O’Neal adds. “It traverses borders. Governments want it, consumers want it and we want it as an industry to make our vehicles safer.”

Jon Lauckner, GM’s chief technology officer and head of global R&D, expects suppliers such as Delphi to reap a windfall from the technologies, elements of which NHTSA plans to make mandatory by 2020. The safety watchdog expects the technology will cost about $329 per vehicle.

“There’s going to be opportunity as the content of the vehicle goes up,” Lauckner says at the conference. “This will open up a lot of opportunity. Depending on where your area of expertise is, you may consider this a blessing.”

O’Neal does admit many questions must be answered before fully automated driving hits the road.

“Do we want to remove the driver from the car?” he asks during remarks to the conference. “When will it be affordable? Who will pay for the infrastructure? How much are customers willing to pay? These are all real-world questions that must be answered.”

O’Neal adds cybersecurity risks to the mix, because connected cars open up the potential for hackers to steal information and cause mayhem. Insurance companies struggle with the notion of automated driving, too, and law enforcement will have to decide who will shoulder the blame if the technology fails.

“Just because we can do it, should we?” O’Neal says. “It is time to get real, and these are questions we must answer.”

jamend@wardsauto.com