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An autonomous car created by Delphi Automotive completed a 3,400-mile trip across the country this week, arriving in New York City nine days after its departure from San Francisco. The team used a modified Audi Q4 SUV (nicknamed "Roadrunner") equipped with cameras, laser rangefinders and other high-tech goodies that let the car watch the road. After acquiring the necessary autonomous car licenses and alerting states they'd be coming through, the team drove, or rather rode along, through California, Texas, Mississippi and a dozen other states.
The car spent "99 percent of the drive" in automated mode. A Delphi spokesperson explained that in certain very specific situations, like when police or construction blocked off the road or caused serious congestion, a human driver would take over to save time. The trip allowed Delphi to test a number of components and acquire a wealth of real-world data for its driverless car research.
Other tech and car companies are hard at work on their own driverless vehicles, and at varying stages of progress — but this is the first time an automated car has gone clear across the country. Chances are, however, it's far from the last.
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