SXSW: Self-Driving Audi to Make First Coast-to-Coast U.S. Drive

SXSW: Self-Driving Audi to Make First Coast-to-Coast U.S. Drive
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Audi SQ5

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Road trips just got more interesting. Today at SXSW, automotive supplier Delphi announced it will attempt the first-ever automated drive in North America. The journey will cover 3,500 miles and start March 22 in San Francisco near the Golden Gate bridge. The journey will end in Manhattan this April at the New York Auto Show.

The test does more than just set records and grab headlines. It will test a variety of terrains and weather conditions allowing to Delphi to better develop safety technology for automotive clients such as Ford and GM. “Now it’s time to put our vehicles to the ultimate test,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi’s chief technology officer in a prepared statement.

The trip is the latest in a string of automated road tests by companies in the space. This January, an Audi took a test drive of 550 miles to Las Vegas. Google’s self-driving cars have logged over 700,000 miles to date and while companies such as Mercedes- BenzUber and Apple are developing their own self-driving solutions.

Related: Mercedes' Self-Driving Car Says Hello to San Francisco

The car, an Audi SQ5, will use a combination of sensors, radar and cameras to make human-like decisions, such as how to proceed at a four-way stop or when to make room for a bicyclist. The company says such real-world scenarios are difficult to fully test inside a lab.

Unmanned, the car will take a southern route across the United States, avoiding mountains and snow, focusing mostly on highway driving. Remotely, Delphi engineers will monitor data processed by the car’s multi-domain controller, a sort of black box that acts as the car’s brain.

Related: Apple Studies Self-Driving Car, Auto Industry Source Says

While Delphi has been developing many of these technologies for years, the company says tests like this one are necessary to keep pace with expanding needs and applications. “We have to be ready. Ford might go one way and GM another, “ says Kristen Kinley, global communications manager for Delphi. “We have to keep pace.”  
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