One company seems to have just passed Google on the road to making self-driving cars a soon-to-be reality.
Delphi, an automotive supplier, teamed up with Audi to complete the “first coast-to-coast trip by a driverless car” this week, CNN Money reported. Over the course of the trip, which spanned 15 states and 3,400 miles in nine hours, human assistance was only required when the car left the highway and had to navigate tricky construction zones on city streets, according to Wired. The car — a 2014 Audi SQ5 — was built within the last year, but it utilized autonomous driving tools that have been in the works over the past 15 years.
Though self-driving cars have been an ongoing “in-development” technology over the last decade, the novelty of Delphi’s experiment is the distance the car traveled. According to Wired, 7.32 miles was all a self-driving vehicle could accomplish 11 years ago. And as recent as January of this year, a 500-mile road trip from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas in a self-driving car had seemed monumental at the time.
While the cross-country accomplishment has been cause for celebration, the Delphi car won’t be available for purchase anytime soon. The immediate plan for the car includes fixing its lack of confidence when driving around tractor-trailers, for example, as well as possibly taking a self-driven road trip through Europe next.
However, some of the technology seen in the Delphi car may soon pop up in other models as automakers like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan and Volvo incorporate more self-driving technology. In fact, it’s estimated that cars will be able to automatically drive themselves on the highway and in stop-and-go traffic in the next three to five years while cars capable of 100 percent self-driving will likely not be available until 2040, Wired said.
Learn more about the cross-country roadtrip in the video below:
Top photo courtesy of Delphi’s Facebook page