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Delphi's planned autonomous drive is longer than similar journeys undertaken by Audi and Mercedes (Photo: Delphi)

Delphi is about to put its driverless technology to the test when it sends a test vehicle across the US on a 3,500 mile trip.

The US automotive supplier said its test vehicle, which it showed at the international CES fair in January, will leave San Francisco on March 22 on its journey eastward. The car will feature a broad range of Delphi's autonomous-driving technologies, which include various radar systems, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication, an automated highway pilot and other advanced functions.

Delphi CTO Jeff Owens said the car has already been tested on a smaller scale in California and in the city of Las Vegas. "Now it’s time to put our vehicle to the ultimate test by broadening the range of driving conditions," he said in a press release. "This drive will help us collect invaluable data in our quest to deliver the best automotive grade technologies on the market.”

In January, Audi completed a 550 mile autonomous drive from Silicon Valley to Las Vegas with a self-driving A7 prototype. In 2013, Daimler covered a 60 mile stretch of German roads with a driverless S 500.

The auto industry expects to gradually introduce more autonomous-driving features in its cars. Premium brands already offer limited hands-free driving options and advanced driver assistance systems using a variety of sensors are quickly finding their way into many new models.

Carlos Ghosn, CEO of Renault and Nissan, said at the Geneva auto show in early March that the two brands have a roadmap for the introduction of autonomous-driving functions. Renault and Nissan will offer cars that can autonomously change lanes on the highway by 2018, he said. And by 2020, there will be models that can drive autonomously in cities.

But the Renault-Nissan chief said it will take longer to see full autonomous cars on the road. "We see that more long term," he said, "say 10 years plus."