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Delphi's Audi SQ5 completes autonomous coast-to-coast trip

The trip took nine days and crossed 15 states and DC, amassing nearly three terabytes of data to analyze for further development.

Delphi Automotive's modified Audi SQ5 has successfully completed its journey from San Francisco to New York City, claiming the title of first coast-to-coast trip by an autonomous vehicle.

The expedition took nine days, crossing 15 states and Washington DC, exposing the self-driving system to traffic circles, construction zones, tunnels, aggressive drivers and a wide range of weather conditions.

"Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations," said Delphi CTO 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 company has plenty of data to sift through, amassing nearly three terabytes of data across the 3,400-mile transit.

The crossover prototype was outfitted with extra electronics, such as LiDAR and radar sensors, complementing the production model's existing suite of cameras and integrated radar components.

Although the trip may be the first completed by an autonomous vehicle, it is not the first fully-autonomous trip across the country. The SQ5 drove itself for 99 percent of the miles, but human drivers took over when the car was off the highway.

Lane-holding is already a common technology across the industry. More vehicles will soon be able to operate autonomously on highways, but the real challenge is off the high-speed roads where the cars face a much more complex and less-predictable environment.

Several major automakers appear to be aiming for partially autonomous production vehicles by 2020, with fully autonomous technology likely waiting until 2030 or later.

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