Self-Driving Car Completes Landmark Cross-Country Trip

By Carl Engelking | April 3, 2015 12:22 pm

Delphi’s self-driving vehicle makes its way toward heavy Chicago traffic. (Credit: Delphi)

A self-driving vehicle that made its debut at CES 2015 just completed a 9-day road trip across the United States — and it wasn’t made by Google.

The car equipped by Delphi, an automotive technology company headquartered in England, completed a 9-day trip from San Francisco to New York City, logging nearly 3,400 miles and operating under full automation through 99 percent of the trip. It’s the first coast-to-coast automated trip ever completed in the United States.

Learning More

Delphi engineers set out on March 22 to gather troves of real-world data on their self-driving technology. A team of six engineers rotated as drivers but only took over the wheel when they needed to exit the highway and drive on hectic city streets.

To make a 2014 Audi SQ5 fully automated, engineers installed six long-range radars, four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six laser range detectors and a full suite of software. That’s a lot of technology, but one would be hard-pressed to spot it, as it all blends seamlessly into the vehicle’s design.

But as pointed out by Wired’s Alex Davies, neither the technology nor the trip itself is what’s most notable about Delphi’s accomplishment. Google has logged more than 700,000 miles with its self-driving vehicles, and Audi just completed a trip from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas. The biggest takeaway is that it will generate a lot of positive buzz about self-driving cars.


Cruising, hands free. (Credit: Delphi)

Throughout the drive, Delphi’s vehicle encountered weather, construction zones, bridges, tunnels and, of course, reckless drivers. However, the vehicle handled these situations better than expected, and engineers rarely took control of the wheel.

Not If, But When

Although Google gets a lot of headlines for its driverless vehicle concepts, there are a lot of players entering the game. Honda announced it would begin testing its self-driving prototypes at a former U.S. Naval base, Nissan is pledging to have autonomous vehicles in Japan by 2016 and Apple reportedly wants to get into the vehicle business.

So the question isn’t whether driverless cars will someday appear in vehicle showrooms, it’s when — and who will get there first.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology, top posts
MORE ABOUT: transportation
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  • TrueUncommonSense

    And the winner is . . .big government which will soon enough mandate the technology and therefore have complete control over your travel. Imagine the benefits: cops no longer needed for speeding tickets – the car will rat you out, perhaps even pinging the nearest meter cop when it sees your time has expired. Doing doughnuts in an empty, icy parking lot? Nope, that dangerous activity will be overridden. Forgot to pay your property taxes or a parking ticket – oops, “your” car won’t start. And wait until you see the “delivery mode”. Say you’re photographed at an anti-government rally. Agents don’t need to track you down, they just signal your car. It verifies your identity, locks the doors and delivers you to them, messaging your very parking location or “holding cell” as you will come to call it.

    Of course, the government has a right and a mandate to protect the public on public roadways after all. Safety has become the mortal enemy of liberty. We’re just too busy being addicted by the technology which enslaves us to care very much.


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