Self-Driving Car Set For 3,500-Mile Cross Country Adventure

Mar 17, 2015 01:37 PM EDT | Matt Mercuro

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An Audi Q5 with radars, cameras and laser sensors will embark on a 3,500-mile adventure on March 22 as it attempts to set a North American record for the longest automated road trip ever.

The vehicle will drive from San Francisco to New York City in a little more than a week, according to a report by The Associated Press. If it accomplishes that feet it will break a world record set in Italy back in 2010 when a self-driving van ventured 8,000 miles from Europe to Shanghai.

The difference between that trip and the one set to begin later this month is that it took the van 3 months to reach Shanghai.

Michigan-based Delphi Automotive created the vehicle, which isn't being called a driverless vehicle since someone will be behind the wheel the whole time.

The person behind the wheel won't touch anything unless a situation occurs that the vehicle can't handle. The car is capable of making decisions like when to stop and proceed at a four-way stop, maneuvering around a trash can or bicyclists and merging onto a highway.

The car is expected to mainly stick to highways during its journey, according to the AP report.

Unlike self-driving cars being created by Toyota, GM and Google, the Q5 looks pretty normal. Six lidar sensors are hidden in the front, rear and on the sides, so drivers passing the vehicle won't have a clue it's any different from their car.

The autonomous vehicle was tested by logging miles and miles around Delphi's Silicon Valley office and drives from San Francisco to Los Angeles. The company also brought the car to the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas back in January where spectators seemed impressed by demonstrations that included two "drunk" pedestrians falling in front of the car to test its brakes.

The cross-country drive is expected to help Delphi figure out the best combination of sensors so that future autonomous vehicles don't cost too much. The company believes it will cost close to $5,000 to make a vehicle almost completely autonomous by 2019.

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