The Mercedes-Benz S-Class is the first car in the history of automobile production to offer an autonomous driving system. This means that the S-Class is now capable of driving itself during traffic jams and on motorways, although they are currently unable to handle turning corners. The motoring brand have named this technology “Steering Assist”.
Mercedes are still working diligently on manufacturing a fully-autonomous car, recently demonstrating that they have already conceived the technology needed to make this happen. Back in August a fully-autonomous prototype travelled the same 60 mile route as Bertha Benz, the first person to ever successfully file an automobile patent, and wife and business partner to Karl Benz, when she made the first ever long-distance drive 125 years ago across Germany.
Watch the video below to get a better idea on how autonomous driving works:
During the 60 mile drive the fully autonomous Mercedes-Benz S-Class prototype coped with heavy traffic, buses and trams, roundabouts, pedestrians and crossings, and it did all that without any type of human interaction. The prototype, dubbed the “S500 Intelligent Drive” operates by using a large array of sensors placed around the car. This technology is already available in the current S-Class, but now Mercedes engineers have discovered how to programme the car to understand its surroundings and react completely autonomously using a digital map, the positions of traffic lights and a complex computer algorithm. Mercedes have stated that this kind of technology is key to producing a fully autonomous vehicle.
Whilst the video demonstrates a jaw-dropping fully autonomous performance, during the 60 mile trip, an engineer had to take control of the wheel a handful of times when the system made a “bad decision”. So it looks like it could still be a little while until self-driving cars are produced en-masse. However Mercedes have shown us that the future is closer than we think!