The idea of autonomous cars has been getting increasingly popular, with the likes of Tesla and Google investing millions of dollar into developing the idea.
One self-driving car, however, has successfully driven across the U.S., from San Francisco to New York. The car was an Audi Q5 that was modified, with the software and modifications being developed by Delphi.
"Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations," said Delphi chief technology officer Jeff Owens. "The knowledge obtained from this trip will help optimize our existing active safety products and accelerate our future product development, which will allow us to deliver unsurpassed automotive grade technologies to our customers."
The trip was to an extent about showing off the new technology, however the main point was to learn about autonomous technology as much as possible. Driving a massive 3,400 miles, the car was left in autonomous mode 99 percent of the time, with drivers having to take control the rest of the time. The trip took nine days and crossed 15 states.
The idea is that Delphi will be able to use the data collected to vastly improve autonomous driving technology, which still has a long way to go before it is ready for consumer use. Throughout the drive, the car encountered complex situations such as traffic circles, construction zones, tunnels, aggressive drivers, and various weather situations. The team collected 3 TB of data during the drive
Autonomous vehicles have been known to not work as well in varying weather conditions, with Google reporting that its self-driving car was not able to perform well in rain or snow.
Delphi is not the first company to conduct long range drives in order to collect more information about autonomous driving. Both Mercedes-Benz and Audi have conducted studies of their own in Europe and in the U.S. In the U.S., however, law states that a licensed driver must be in the driver's seat ready to take the wheel in case of a problem.
Google is perhaps most famous for its work on autonomous cars, and has been developing the technology for a few years. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, however, has also spoken about autonomous driving technology and how Tesla will be at the forefront of that technology. He has also said that self-driving cars will be at least 10 times safer than human drivers, potentially saving millions of lives per year. Google itself has said that it hopes the technology will be developed enough to be on the roads within five years.