A couple of weeks ago, an Audi Q5 packed with automotive supplier Delphi’s autonomous car technologies set out on a coast-to-coast trip, departing San Francisco and ending up in New York City nine days later. Nearly 3,400 miles were covered, and according to Delphi an impressive 99 percent of the journey was done in fully autonomous mode.
Along the way, the vehicle encountered numerous complex driving situations, many of which weren’t anticipated. These included traffic circles, construction zones, bridges, tunnels, aggressive drivers and a variety of weather conditions.
The technologies, which included radar and camera monitoring systems plus vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-object communications systems, enabled the Q5 to handle most of those situations completely on its own, including some of the most complex ones like stopping and then proceeding at a four-way stop, timing a highway merge or calculating the safest maneuver around a cyclist or other object on a city street—abilities most existing autonomous systems are unable to execute.
The drive was used by engineers to research and collect information that will help further advance the technology, and although it may still be years until we see a fully autonomous car many of the associated technologies can be used today as active safety systems, like collision mitigation, radar and camera monitoring systems, and forward collision and lane departure warning.