Driverless car begins historic cross-country road trip from California to New York

Drivers across America be warned - there's an 'unmanned' car on the road.

A driverless car is currently on a cross-country road trip to test the state-of-the-art technology that allows a driver to sit back and relax with no hands on the wheel.

Delphi Automotive launched the first coast-to-coast test of a driverless car on Sunday, starting at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

For the next week, the specially rigged Audi SQ5 SUV will be headed on a 3,500 mile journey to New York City.

It is expected to arrive before the New York International Auto Show on April 3, ending what Delphi Automotive describes as the 'longest automated drive ever attempted in North America'

But Delphi insists that drivers on the road shouldn't be scared if they pass by their test vehicle.

Two people will be in the car at all times to take over the controls in emergencies - or more often, construction zones.

Delphi, one of the largest suppliers of automotive electronics and safety systems, is using the long journey in the Audi crossover to acquire 2.3 terabytes data from a sophisticated array of cameras, radar and lidar - a laser mapping technology.

The car comes with 20 sensors including four short-range radars, three vision-based cameras, six lidars, a localization system and a driver assistance program.

The Audi heading to New York will be able to stop and proceed at four-way stops and find the best way to get around cyclists, according to Delphi.

It can also navigate complicated procedures such as merging on to the highway.

Though commuters may be dreaming of kicking back on the way to work, Owens said, 'our view is that the driver is going to be in the seat for a long time' in case of emergency situations.

During the coast-to-coast journey, one of two engineers aboard will be behind the wheel.

Delphi will now test such functions as traffic jam assist, automated highway pilot with lane change and automated parking and valet.

All of those systems are expected to be introduced in production cars over the next two to three years.

The car had previously been tested on the streets of Las Vegas during the CES 2015 conference and has been on road trips between the Bay Area and Los Angeles.  

Credit: Ashley Collman/Daily Mail