AUBURN HILLS, Michigan — Call it a preview of the cross-country road trip of the future.

An autonomous car developed by Michigan-based auto supplier Delphi Automotive will soon be making a 3,500-mile journey across the U.S. A person will sit behind the wheel at all times but won’t touch it unless there’s a situation the car can’t handle. The car will mainly stick to highways.

Companies both inside and outside the auto industry are experimenting with technologies that take more and more responsibilities away from the driver – right up to the act of actually driving the car. Most experts say a true driverless vehicle is at least a decade away.

Delphi plans to show off one of several versions of the car – an Audi Q5 crossover outfitted with laser sensors, radar and multiple cameras – on Saturday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. The official car will start its journey March 22 in San Francisco and arrive in New York a little more than a week later.

The autonomous Audi warmed up for its long journey by racking up lots of miles tooling around Delphi’s Silicon Valley office and taking a drive from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Delphi showed off the car at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in January where, during a demonstration, the car braked by itself – just like it was supposed to – when two inebriated men fell into the street in front of it.

Delphi officials believe the upcoming road trip is the longest automated drive ever attempted in North America. In 2010, the Italian company VisLab took a driverless van on an 8,000-mile, three-month journey from Europe to Shanghai.

“We’re going to learn a lot out of this,” said Jeff Owens, Delphi’s chief technology officer, who declined to say how much the autonomous prototypes cost, though the techonology is prohibitively expensive.