Driverless car completes 3,400-mile road trip across the United States

The car traveled from San Francisco to New York City, and only needed human intervention on a 50-mile stretch

Back in late March a driverless automobile made its cross-country trek of 3,400 miles, traveling through 15 different states, without an accident or roadway incident. And no, it wasn’t Tesla, Google, or General Motors, but British auto supplier, Delphi Automotive, who was behind the success of this vehicle’s journey.

Delphi’s self-driving car went from San Francisco to New York City, in automated mode for 99% of the nine-day quest, and didn’t hit another car, person, or get a ticket. Apparently the company has been quietly advancing driverless technology, because the blue 2014 Audi SQ5 only gave its wheel to its human driver on a 50-mile stretch of city streets, where there were unmarked lanes and heavy roadwork.


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“Along the way, the vehicle encountered complex driving situations such as traffic circles, construction zones, bridges, tunnels, aggressive drivers, and a variety of weather conditions,” Delphi said in a statement.

Packed with technology including four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six “lidars” (similar to radars), a localization system, intelligence software algorithms, and a full range of advanced drive assistance systems, the car was more than ready to hit the road.

Although Google has been running a driverless vehicle over test tracks and roadways, putting 700,000 miles on its self-driving cars, and Audi recently completed a semi-long trip from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas, Delphi’s journey from coast-to-coast is the most extensive yet.


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According to Delphi, the car never broke a speed limit, which apparently did not go over well with other drivers, resulting in the car being on the receiving end of a few hateful gestures. The reason Delphi put a human driver in the driver’s seat during the trek was to work out a few kinks, such as the car not wanting to move into a crowded left lane to avoid a police stop on a road shoulder, and edging to one side for some looming semis, as it appears the vehicle shares the same fear of huge tractor-trailer trucks that many humans have.

Chief technology officer and executive vice president of Delphi, Jeffrey Owens, was pleased with the car’s successful adventure. “The car performed remarkably well,” he said.

Written for Electronic Products.

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