Mercedes-Benz showcases driverless tech

Vehicle manufacturer Mercedes-Benz has revealed the progress that it has made with its driverless technology by taking its S500 Intelligent Drive concept car on a 100km trip in the South of Germany.

The luxury car firm set out to re-enact the journey made by Bertha Benz, the wife of the firm’s founder Karl Benz, in 1888 to demonstrate the suitability of the Benz patent motor car for everyday use. 125 years later, Mercedes-Benz has set out to prove a similar point using driverless technology.

“Developed on the basis of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, the S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle autonomously covered the approximately 100 kilometres between Mannheim and Pforzheim,” the firm wrote in a statement. “Yet, unlike Bertha Benz all those years ago, it did not have the road “all to itself”, but had to negotiate dense traffic and complex traffic situations.”

Driverless cars operate through use of communicating sensors to ensure safe and efficient travel. Through vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication there may be no need for traffic lights and stop signs when all of the cars on the road are driverless. Mercedes-Benz said that its driverless technology is an extension to its partially-automated technology, which is already available to Mercedes-Benz E-Class and S-Class drivers.

“The new Distronic Plus with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot is capable of steering the vehicle mainly autonomously through traffic jams. This system thus forms the core of Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive, the intelligent networking of all safety and comfort systems,” the firm added.

Mercedes-Benz said that its test vehicles employed only the sensor technologies that are already today used in similar form in its standard-production vehicles. Based on these sensor data and determination of the vehicle’s own position with reference to information from a digital map, an autonomously driving vehicle analyses the available free area for driving and plans its own route.

Expectations for driverless cars to take to the roads in the coming years are high; according the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), by the year 2040, driverless cars operated using M2M technology will account for up to 75 per cent of cars on the road worldwide.

It’s not just Mercedes-Benz working on the technology. At the 2013 Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January, Toyota and Ford showcased their own technologies.

Toyota demonstrated its autonomous driving technologies at the show, through its high-end Lexus brand. Group vice president and general manager Mark Templin showcased the 2013 Lexus LS model, which Toyota claims is equipped with the world’s most advanced pre-collision safety system.

Meanwhile, US car maker Ford showcased its in-car integration of the Android app Kaliki at the show. Kaliki curates the top news stories from major newspapers and magazines and provides an audio version for on-demand playback in the vehicle.

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