Delphi Automotive's Audi SQ5 self-driving car is set to cruise on the roads of San Francisco as it readies for its road trip to New York.

The autonomous Audi SQ5 from Delphi will undertake the "longest automated drive ever attempted in North America," journeying nearly 3,500 miles coast to coast in the test drive from San Francisco to New York.

The test drive is aimed at pushing the autonomous car technology to its limit, and the journey will aid Delphi in gathering real-world data via a gamut of top-end cameras, laser mapping software and radars.

On March 22, a team of engineers from the company will leave for California in the Audi SQ5. They will be armed with sophisticated cameras, LIDaR and radar systems. The team aims to arrive in New York City in time for the New York International Auto Show on April 3.

The self-driving Audi SQ5 from Delphi will travel for nearly six to eight hours per day in varied climatic conditions, and its performance will be monitored by the company's engineers. The data gathered will enable engineers to devise methods that will make both passengers and drivers content with the notion of self-driving vehicles.

While a person will be behind the wheel throughout the journey, the "driver" will not intervene unless the car runs into trouble.

"Whenever we are on the road, we will always have a driver in the seat," said Jeff Owens, Delphi's VP and CTO. "It's all about ... staying alert."

According to Delphi, the self-driving car will be able to take decisions such as halting, merging into a highway, or maneuvering around an object. In the event the car wants the driver to take control, it will issue a verbal alert, as well as flash lights on the dashboard.

Experts say that even though many companies are working on autonomous cars, driverless vehicles becoming commonplace may be a decade away.

Those interested in following the progress of the self-driving car can do so at www.delphidrive.com.

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