Joining the autonomous driving pack of 2020, Mercedes-Benz will launch cars that can fully drive themselves – though this technology will not have a special model for that purpose. It looks like the Germans will offer a package that will optionally equip the standard line-up.
Looking to incorporate the autonomous driving technology into its regular lineup, Mercedes-Benz will most likely start with the usual setup, equipping the next generation S Class with it.
“Our approach is, let’s not do it with a special car with a lot of antennas, let’s do it with a standard car,” said Thomas Weber, head of product engineering for Mercedes-Benz cars.
They already have the new generation S Class fitted as an experimental vehicle – the culmination of twenty years of research and development – and it recently completed a journey of more than 60 miles driving completely autonomously. An engineer monitored from the driver’s seat, with hands and feet off the controls, as it merged into traffic on busy highways and negotiated roundabouts and crosswalks on crowded city streets.
The route from Mannheim to Pforzheim, Germany followed a journey made by Bertha Benz, wife of Mercedes-Benz founder Carl Benz, in 1888 behind the wheel of the Benz Patent-Motorwagen, the first motorcar. Back then, she undertook the journey to prove her husband’s technology, much as is now the case with the S500 Intelligent Drive with autonomous driving.
“We have the first autonomous driving function available for our customers in the new S-Class: Stop & Go Pilot,” Weber says.
Mercedes purposely equipped the self-driving S500 Intelligent Drive experimental vehicle exclusively with cameras and sensors already available on its production vehicles to prove that the technology is indeed ready for the real world and isn’t just a pipe dream.
Still, significant barriers remain: legislation, technology and its price. As Mercedes sees it, autonomous driving will turn cars into autopilot chauffeurs that free drivers from the stress and monotony of gridlock by taking over driving duties when traffic is bumper to bumper.
) - Tuesday, October 1st, 2013 - filed under Mercedes-Benz
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