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SF to NY, 3,500 mile coast to coast journey for driverless Delphi Audi

William Payne

April 1, 2015

Component supplier Delphi has converted an Audi SQ5 into a driverless vehicle and has despatched it on a 3,500 mile coast to coast trip from San Francisco on the Pacific to New York on the Atlantic seaboard. The trip is believed to be the longest ever attempted by a driverless vehicle in North America, if not anywhere.

The cross-continent trip will test to the limit current driverless technology.

The journey began near the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. Although they left on a Sunday, they ran into heavy traffic on the Los Angeles Highway. The three Delphi employees who were the passengers tweeted their progress.

One challenge the driverless passengers faced on their coast to coast journey was navigating different state laws on autonomous vehicles. California allows driverless vehicles, but requires that someone sit behind the wheel. Other states the car will pass through require not only someone behind the wheel, but a constant hand on it.

The journey will allow Delphi engineers to gather critical data and further advance the company's active safety technology development in this rapidly growing segment of the auto industry. During the cross-country trek, the vehicle will be challenged under a variety of driving conditions from changing weather and terrain to potential road hazards – things that could never truly be tested in a lab.

“Delphi had great success testing its car in California and on the streets of Las Vegas,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi's chief technology officer. “Now it's time to put our vehicle to the ultimate test by broadening the range of driving conditions. This drive will help us collect invaluable data in our quest to deliver the best automotive grade technologies on the market.”

Delphi's active safety technologies enable the vehicle to instantaneously make complex decisions, like stopping and then proceeding at a four-way stop, timing a highway merge or calculating the safest manoeuvre around a bicyclist on a city street.