Published on March 24th, 2015 | by Christopher DeMorro0
Delphi Self-Driving Car Embarks On Autonomous Cross-Country Journey
March 24th, 2015 by Christopher DeMorro
When it comes to autonomous car technology, automakers great and small are competing with tech companies like Google to bring the first truly self-driving vehicles to market. Yet automakers have a deep parts bin to pull from thanks to suppliers like Delphi, which will send its own self-driving car on the first autonomous coast-to-coast trip in the US.
Though Delphi may not be a household name in the same way Audi or Ford are, the components it builds range from audio systems, to driver interfaces, to safety technology, to fuel cell technology. This is Delphi’s first effort with autonomous vehicles, though, and this demonstrator is meant more to impress automakers themselves than consumers like you or me. Wired reports the parts maker chose an Audi SQ5 SUV for its base vehicle, and unlike many autonomous concepts, there are no overt indications that this is a car that can drive itself.
Instead, the parts supplier has cleverly hidden all the sensors and cameras that it says will enable the modified Audi to drive from San Francisco to New York, hands free. A windshield-mounted camera forms the focus point of the autonomous drive system, reading traffic lights, lane markers, and road signs. Mid-range radar sensors on each corner can detect vehicles up to 240 feet/80 meters away, while two long-range radar units at the front and rear of the car have an effective range of 540 feet/180 meters, about five times the average stopping distance for a car travelling at highway speeds.
Travelling 3,000 miles without any driver input demonstrates just how far Delphi’s autonomous car tech has come. Tesla Motors, considered to be at the forefront of self-driving vehicles, just announced that it’s begun testing hands-free driving between San Francisco and Seattle, a distance of about 800 miles. More than just safety, autonomous driving technology could drastically reduce air pollution around our congested metro areas.
Now don’t get me wrong, completing a hands-free journey across 3,000 miles of North America would be an impressive feat. But a pair of solar-powered vans already did the same thing back in 2010, covering almost three-times the distance on a journey retracing Marco Polo’s journey from Italy to China. Then again, Delphi earned $1.35 billion in 2014 selling autonomous car components to automakers, and it expects that number to increase by 50% annually in the next few years.
You may never buy a Delphi-branded automobile, but the parts it builds may literally be driving you around some day, if they aren’t already.