Automobile technology company Delphi Automotive showed of its autonomous Audi Q5 back at CES in January, but now they are set to release their latest self-driving car project on its very own cross-country road trip. That’s right, Delphi’s Audi crossover will travel from San Francisco to New York over the week starting March 22nd, but no one will be driving! Well, someone will be sitting behind the steering wheel. But they won’t be touching it!
Delphi says the point of the trip is not just to test, but to gather data from driving on different roadways, in various weather conditions, and for six to eight hours a day, which will help them improve their technology. A human will be in the driver’s seat the entire time the car is on the road, but will only get involved if the autonomous vehicle has a problem.
The car is outfitted with technology in order to constantly scan its surroundings, including six laser sensors, six radar sensors, and multiple cameras. Delphi says their self-driving car can make a number of complex decisions, including stopping and advancing at a four-way stop, maintaining the speed and timing needed to complete a merge onto the highway, and the ability to avoid things like a cyclist or trash can. The car can even tell the driver it wants them to take over through verbal messages and flashing dashboard lights.
The Audi has already been on the road several times; first in the Silicon Valley area, and then a trip from San Francisco to Los Angeles. But Delphi believes the trip from San Francisco to New York, if successful, will be the longest automated drive ever in North America.
Delphi executives won’t reveal details about the pricing of their prototypes or when their technology might be available to consumers, but they say they hope to one day see their work contributing to a decline in worldwide traffic deaths through autonomous features like pedestrian detection and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems.