Mercedes-Benz conducts automated worldwide test drive
Mercedes-Benz is testing automated driving functions on all five continents using a vehicle based on the S‑Class in what it is calling "Intelligent World Drive." The test vehicle is based on the new series production Saloon, and this S‑Class, which has been automated for test purposes, will face a variety of complex traffic situations between now and January 2018. After the launch in Germany, the next test drive is going on now in China followed by others in Australia in November and South Africa in December. The final stop of the tour will be the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas in January. The purpose of the Intelligent World Drive is to collect information on what happens under real traffic conditions around the world, so that future automated and autonomous driving functions can be brought into line with country-specific user/traffic habits.
"Recording, processing, and interpreting highly complex traffic situations is the key to safe automated and autonomous driving. This is particularly demanding in dense urban traffic. This is why we are deliberately testing our automated driving functions in everyday driving situations in large cities," said Ola Källenius, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. "In this way, not only do our vehicles become more intelligent, they also become safer."
The company says that the experiment will also help finalize legal framework for self-driving vehicles regarding road laws, certification, and data storage internationally.
"Progress must not stop at national borders. Legislation must keep pace with technological development. Otherwise it will not be possible for important innovations in automated and autonomous driving to hit the road," said Renata Jungo Brüngger, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, responsible for Integrity and Legal Affairs. "Legal certainty is essential for the acceptance of autonomous driving in society. So we quickly need further international harmonization of the legal framework."
Each continent along the Intelligent World Drive has different test focuses. While the main area of interest in Germany is specific driving behaviors on motorways and in traffic jams, the focus of the test drive in China is on driving behavior in the dense traffic of Shanghai with its millions of inhabitants. On a drive from Sydney to Melbourne, the developers in Australia will test the latest digital maps from HERE. Also in the Cape Town area in South Africa, the focus is on testing the available maps in everyday use as well as on country-specific peculiarities. The test drive in the Los Angeles area and afterward on to Las Vegas will concentrate on an evaluation of driving behavior in dense urban traffic and traffic jams as well as traffic overtaking on the right on highways.
As lighting also plays a key role on the road to automated and autonomous mobility, the Intelligent World Drive is additionally testing a prototype headlamp featuring innovative Digital Light technology. This lighting system has features that were unveiled as a vision of the future in the F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle in early 2015. The non-dazzle continuous high beam in HD quality uses chips with over one million micro-mirrors, and therefore pixels, per headlamp. Among other things, Digital Light is able to project light corridors onto the road to communicate with the surroundings.