Mercedes-Benz showcases its first self-driving car

AutoLast week, Mercedes-Benz presented its first ever self-driving car to the public. During a showcase, the new Mercedes S 500 Intelligent Drive drove for the first time along a route of over 100 kilometer, all by itself.

During this milestone for Mercedes, the car manufacturer thought it fitting to take a historic route — the same route that Mrs. Benz, the wife of the company’s co-founder, drove in 1888 to show how easy it was to drive a car.

Unlike 125 years ago, however, there was a lot of traffic on the road. This meant the self-driving car had to take into account the other vehicles, pedestrians, traffic lights and other road signs.

Car-to-car and car-to-infrastructure communication make it possible to safely weave through busy traffic. If all cars were equipped with this type of communication technology, self-driving cars may well become safer than traditional, manually operated cars. In that case, vehicles will be able to negotiate with each other and prevent accidents. This communication system might also render traffic lights superfluous.

Mercedes-Benz did not integrate any sensors into its car for the showcase. The technology to let a car drive by itself only forms an extension of the existing automation system that is integrated into the Mercedes S class by default.

 “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,” explains a spokesman of the car manufacturer.

The expectations for self-driving cars are high. Recently, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) predicted that by 2040, over 70 per cent of all cars will be self-driving.

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