Just over three weeks ago, we told you about a daring coast-to-coast trans-america road trip being planned by tier-one automotive supplier Delphi Automotive (NYSE: DLPH) to test its suite of autonomous vehicle technologies. Coming hot on the heels of a 560- mile autonomous road trip from San Francisco to Las Vegas by Audi and its A7 Piloted Drive Sedan prototype back in January this year, Delphi’s trip was designed not just to promote autonomous driving technology but to also prove to its customers — many of the world’s largest automakers — that it was ready and willing to help them build self-driving cars in the near future.
Now we’re happy to report the trip was a success, with the heavily-modified Audi SQ5 SUV tracing a southerly route to New York City from San Francisco without incident.
Passing through fifteen different states and Washington, D.C., the trip took a total of nine days, arriving in New York City on schedule with around 99 percent of the 3,400 miles driven under the control of the Delphi’s autonomous software. Accompanying the car for the entire trip was a team of six Delphi engineers, who not only were on hand in case of unexpected problems but also to collect a massive amount of data from the drive.
Fortunately, the trip was problem-free, leaving the team free to enjoy the trip and collect nearly three terabytes of data which Delphi says will help it refine and ready its technology further for future production-ready OEM applications.
How large is 3 terabytes? Delphi provides its own estimation: around 30 percent of all of the printed material in the Library of Congress. Here at Transport Evolved, 3 terabytes is equivalent to three times the stock footage library that we’ve amassed in the 18 months since we started producing our weekly news roundup show T.E.N.
“Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi’s Chief Technology Officer of the coast-to-coast journey. “The knowledge obtained from this trip will 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.”
It’s worth noting at this point that the trip didn’t just tackle highway driving or just city driving — as other autonomous driving demonstrations from other companies and automakers have done in the past. During the nine-day trip, the specially-modified Audi SQ5 was asked to deal with a variety of different weather and road conditions, including dealing with traffic circles (roundabouts), construction zones, bridges, tunnels and of course, a variety of other road users of varying competencies and temperaments.
While the route traced a southerly one, heading south from San Francisco and through Arizona, and New Mexico before crossing the Deep South to the east coast, the car also had to deal with a variety of different weather conditions, although we note the trip didn’t encounter severe snow. As one of the engineers joked in the video diary “we can’t handle the cold,” although we’re not sure the car would have been as happy in snow either.
With the trip completed, Delphi’s engineers are already busily poring over the data, so we’ll be keen to see what lessons are learned — and how soon it will be before Delphi makes another trip.
Pan American highway, anyone?
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