Mercedes-Benz´ contribution to the self-driving-future:
Mercedes is one of the lead main players in the development of a driverless car. Daimler´s driverless trucks, the Mercedes F015 fully automous car, Distronic Plus and Intelligent Drive partially automated driving, etc. The company excels in technological advancement, creativity and marketing strategies in pushing forward the self driving dream.
Instead of focusing on one route only, like most car manufacturers do, Mercedes is putting its eggs in different baskets. Together with integrating assisted driving technology in the existing E and S-Class models, Mercedes also displayed a futuristic looking autonomous car (F015) during the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas in 2015 and announced the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025. The Mercedes self-driving car will be ready for all possible outcomes.
New Mercedes-Benz E and S-Class models help the driver where wanted or needed. Distronic Plus is an advanced cruise control that keeps the car a set distance behind the vehicle in front and applies the brakes when required. Its steering assistance feature also provides lateral lane stability and guidance. Both technologies were implemented in 2014. In the meantime Mercedes has been improving the partially autonomous car features even more.
After receiving a license in Nevada beginning of 2015 Daimler (daughter company of Mercedes) started testing a series of self driving Freightliner trucks. At that point Mercedes claimed the production of self driving trucks was just two years away. The technology behind it is called Highway Pilot. Once on the highway, the driver presses the HP button and the truck takes over: It adjusts top speed to comply with posted limits, using the camera and OCR software to pick up speed-limit signs. The advanced cruise control keeps pace with the vehicle ahead and in stop-and-go traffic. When it is time to exit the highway, the driver has to take over. Later in 2015 Daimler began testing this technology in 3 platooning Freightliners in Dusseldorf, Germany, on a real but closed of piece of autobahn. In March 2016 did the same test in Dusseldorf in live traffic. It seems Mercedes could be closing in on that 2 year promise.
Even more appealing to the imagination are Mercedes´ achievements in the development of a fully autonomous car. First there is the story about the S500 Intelligent Drive. In August 1888, Bertha Benz set off on her famous first long-distance automobile journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim. In doing so, the wife of Carl Benz demonstrated the suitability of the Benz car for everyday use. She paved the way for the worldwide success of Mercedes. 125 years later, in August 2013, Mercedes-Benz partnerede up with Nokia´s mapping service Here and recorded a no less spectacular achievement, following the same route. The S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle covered the approximately 100 kilometres between Mannheim and Pforzheim, fully autonomously.
The S500 intelligence achievements lead to the construction of the F015, Mercedes´ fully autonomous prototype of the future. Mercedes-Benz calls it an "immersive user experience and an innovative perspective into the future of mobility". To fully grasp with it meant by that one must stop reading and watch the video below. Although the ´Luxury in Motion´ research car implements all of Mercedes´ Intelligent Drive software like its Distronic Plus advanced cruise control or Parktronic active park assist and has numerous radars and sensors implemented, like a stereo multi-purpose camera (SMPC), a stereo camera for short view with “6D Vision” technology, the F015 more a visual and technological concept car than a fully autonomous vehicle and will only function on small and set circuits as of yet. Nevertheless it has potential to become the next real thing. And Although the car is only a concept, the Mercedes spokesman told newspaper Mirror that a similar vehicle would cost roughly the same as an S Class, which start at about $85,000.
The future of cars
Mercedes has eggs in all baskets when it comes to the possible outcome of the future of transportation. According to Dr Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, they still believe in car ownership in the future. “The car is growing beyond its role as a mere means of transport and will ultimately become a mobile living space.” The design of the F015 certainly reflects this living space philosophy. But in case we can believe Uber or General Motors acquistion of Lyft, and the future will be populated by driverless taxis and car ownership will be no longer. The Mercedes self-driving car will be prepared too, owning rivalry apps like car2go and MyTaxi.