The new executive sedan is the first standard-production vehicle to be awarded a test licence for autonomous driving in the US state of Nevada.
After Nevada passed regulations on autonomous driving back in June 2011, automakers have rushed to deploy and test their self-driving cars on the state’s roads. To allow autonomous driving functions to be tested, vehicles previously had to be elaborately equipped with special hardware and software. This included additional sensors, modified steering and an adapted ESP. That is no longer the case with the new E-Class, as the standard-production car is already extensively equipped with intelligent technology, boasts Mercedes-Benz. This means that, for testing purposes, it is merely necessary to make some smaller software modifications to the Drive Pilot control unit. “The fact that Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first vehicle manufacturer to be awarded such a licence shows that we are a step ahead when it comes to autonomous Driving. The new E-Class is therefore another big step to the fully automated vehicle,” Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, said. Daimler is already testing two self-driving trucks on public roads since May 2015.
Self-driving tests are permitted on all interstates and state highways in Nevada, human drivers being required only for turning, merging and departing. Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles rules also stipulate that there must be one passenger behind the wheel and a second passenger in the vehicle on test drives. These vehicles could be identified in traffic by a red licence plate reserved for autonomous driving.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class will make its debut next week at the Detroit Auto Show, but the official gallery has already been leaked.