‘Drive Pilot’ By Mercedes-Benz Is The Future Of Autonomous Vehicles
It seems that Mercedes-Benz are leading the world in true autonomous vehicle technology after a test of their ‘Drive Pilot’ system worked perfectly.
‘Drive Pilot’ is the first autonomous driving system to receive a level 3 rating from the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe. While the technology is not yet available in the US, Mercedes are currently running tests in America.
At this stage, Drive Pilot only works under specific conditions. It needs to be day with favourable weather, free from road works and toll booths, and the car must be on clearly marked highways. The car will not change lanes or exceed 64 km/h.
While this may sound specific, these are early days for the technology and is far more advanced than autonomous systems currently available.
To show off their latest achievement, Mercedes invited a few car journalists on a drive.
Autoblog journalists were taken on a ride on the traffic riddled Santa Monica freeway in California, during rush hour.
Journalist Mark Rechtin was extremely impressed by the experience, going as far as saying that the Drive Pilot system was “the smartest of adaptive cruise controls. If the driver wanted to compose an email or watch a video, the system allowed it. No need to keep a token finger on the wheel in order to stave off a warning every 15 seconds.”
“Our “driver” – Lucas Bolster, Mercedes R&D’s principal engineer of automated driving – says Drive Pilot has driven him hands-free and eyes-averted through a 65-minute rush hour on this same stretch of road. In our brief demo, acceleration and braking was smooth, without any lurching stops, and there was no ping-ponging between the lane markers. It was the best kind of chauffeur.”
“At one point, a lane-jumper hinted at making inroads into our right-rear quarter-panel. The Drive Pilot adroitly swerved to the left-hand side of the lane. The system will take the car to the farthest edge of the lane marking but will not change lanes if the other car’s incursion is insistent (that is a future development that Mercedes says is achievable). If a car intrudes in front of you, the Mercedes will politely make way. It won’t honk the horn in such an instance but will if a car in front decides to reverse course toward you.”
Autonomous driving obviously has a long way to go before we can completely ignore the wheel, however its advancements like these that get us there. There is an attitude towards autonomous vehicles when people hear the specific conditions that must be met for the technology to work. However, technological steps such as what has been achieved by Mercedes here are the only way towards fully autonomous vehicles.
Currently, Drive Pilot works on over 12,875km of German highway and is being tested across the US, having covered 80,467km of American roads.