On Thursday morning I met with Delphi at its Silicon Valley garage. The automotive component maker has been working hard in the high-tech scene, not just developing speakers and interactive navigation products, but also trying to perfect the complex network of sensors and software that will help auto manufacturers offer smarter cars in just a few years.
To demonstrate its progress in the self-driving car scene, Delphi asked Ars to come down and do a ride-along in its tricked out Audi SQ5—which the company will send on the world’s first autonomous-vehicle cross-country road trip next week. The trip is not a stunning announcement, but an indicator of just how far autonomous vehicles have come. Until just a few years ago, self-driving cars were the purview of science fiction. Even just last year, you could probably count the number of people who had been in a self driving car in a short tally, and automakers were heralding stop-and-go cruise control as the cutting edge of technology that would be coming to a wide range of cars in the next few years. Today, the self-driving technology is being fully realized in many labs, not just Google’s, and tomorrow is just over the horizon.