Delphi Roadrunner completes first autonomous cross-country drive

By Bob Nagy on April 3, 2015 7:32 AM

Presented earlier this year at the 2015 CES Show, a specially prepared Audi SQ5 has completed a nine-day/3,400-mile coast-to-coast trek from San Francisco to New York City using fully autonomous driving technology created by Delphi Automotive. Dubbed the Roadrunner, it relied on six long-range and four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six light detection and ranging (LIDAR) systems, a localization system, software algorithms and a full suite of Advanced Drive Assistance Systems to become the first autonomous vehicle to make the trip with virtually no input from a human pilot. 

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Delphi chose a largely Southern route for the Roadrunner's historic journey to avoid inclement weather and confined its activity to daylight hours. The 15-state voyage took it through Los Angeles and then on to Phoenix; El Paso;  Dallas; Jackson, Mississippi; Atlanta; Durham, North Carolina and Philadelphia before finally rolling into the Big Apple. The only time the six engineers directly involved in the program took a "hands-on" approach was when the vehicle encountered situations that might have been too confusing for Roadrunner's formidable but still-being-developed capabilities, such as poorly marked construction zones and brief stints of off-highway travel onto city streets. 

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"Our vehicle performed remarkably well during this drive, exceeding our expectations," said Jeff Owens, Delphi chief technology officer. "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." During the 99 percent of the trip performed in autonomous mode, Delphi collected roughly three terabytes of data to - a quantity it points out equals about 30 percent of all of the printed materials currently contained in the Library of Congress.  

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