Nexteer's latest step is the addition of an emergency steering system in case of equipment failure.
A complete backup system would be too costly and bulky. Instead, Nexteer is designing redundancy into individual units. For example, the electronic control unit would have two separate computational tracks that check each other for accuracy. If one fails, the other takes over.
If the steering does fail, the stability control system could be programmed to guide the car to the side of the road, Lubischer notes.
This is heady stuff for a supplier that seemed doomed to oblivion during the Great Recession. After nearly a century as General Motors' in-house supplier, Saginaw Steering Gear was spun off as a division of Delphi Automotive in 1999.
But Delphi declared bankruptcy in 2005, so GM took back Nexteer, only to enter bankruptcy itself in 2009. Nexteer was reborn a year later when GM sold it to Pacific Century Motors, the investment arm for the city of Beijing.
After an infusion of capital, Nexteer managed to boost revenue last year by 14 percent to $3.8 billion — enough to gain bragging rights as the world's No. 3 producer of steering systems.
The question, of course, is whether a traditional supplier such as Nexteer can carve a niche in the market for self-driving vehicles.
Lubischer is optimistic. "We are convinced this is the way the technology will go," he said. "We have the in-house expertise, the software, the hardware — you name it. This is a rich field for us."