Once its autonomous vehicle completes its 3,500-mile journey from the Golden Gate Bridge to New York City, automotive supplier Delphi will officially be the first to take an autonomous vehicle across the United States.
The vehicle in question is a 2014 Audi SQ5 outfitted with various Delphi cameras, sensors and computers to enable the driver-less trip. There’s a camera in the windshield to scope out traffic lights, lanes and road signs; midrange sensors with a range of 80 meters installed on all four corners; and two more sensors at the front and rear. The front and rear also get a set of long-range sensors that can “see” 80 meters ahead and behind.
The journey will put the vehicle through a range of vastly-different driving conditions, allowing it to collect terabytes of information on how the sensor suite sees and interprets the world around it, and how the car drives. From there, the goal is to fine-tune the equipment and associated algorithms needed for proper autonomous driving. Like many other automotive suppliers, Delphi is looking to develop innovate tech to license to automotive manufacturers. And it has never been clearer that autonomous driving technology is very desirable to nearly every automaker.
In fact, the market for autonomous driving and active safety technology, which includes features like lane-keeping, adaptive cruise control, and automatic braking, is growing at a rate of 35 percent annually. Delphi made $1.4 billion on the technology in 2014, and is looking to grow that by 50 percent year-over-year.
Those concerned with the readiness of the Delphi vehicle should know that a human occupant will be behind the wheel at all times to take control of the modded Audi when it is not on the highway. In order to maximize conditions for all the sensors and cameras, the vehicle will drive about eight hours per day while the sun is up, thereby completing the trip in eight days. If all goes as planned, Delphi’s autonomous Audi SQ5 will arrive in New York City on the night of the 2015 New York International Auto Show, demonstrating to the press, the public, and to automakers how bright the future of its autonomous technology truly is.