Next Generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class Will Get Autonomous Highway Driving Ability
|   Wednesday, June 24, 2015
Mercedes-Benz E-Class will receive in its list of options a technology enabling autonomous driving on the highway. This will take place in 2016 when it will debut on the new E premium generation.

The technology debuted on the current S-Class generation and will be gradually introduced on other models in the Mercedes-Benz range. As in the case of the S-Class, the system must "feel" the driver's hands on the wheel, even if they only have to touch the surface of the wheel, so that the direction can be automatically operated.


Although the car is able to run itself on the highway, the legal rules oblige those from Mercedes-Benz to use a variant of the system, which makes the driver careful on the road constantly and keep his hands on the wheel.

The Germans from Mercedes-Benz took the decision to introduce this technology in the E-Class' offer to ensure it remains competitive with BMW and Audi rivals, which currently outperform them in terms of sales. The Stuttgart brand's competitors are not far from it in terms of self-driving tech, both Audi and BMW presenting systems able to drive without driver intervention over any distance.

The new autonomous driving system on the Mercedes-Benz E-Class promises to be smarter than the S-Class and can operate at speeds up to 130 km/h. Although it is technically capable of tight cornering, the system will not perform these maneuvers, instead asking the driver from time to take command of the wheel before it has to be maneuvered. According to Mercedes-Benz, over 90 percent of the S-Class customers in Germany chose the 2,250 euro option which enables this capability.

If the car detects that the driver doesn't have his hands on the steering wheel, the aid system first switches on a warning light, then it beeps, and finally turns itself off, forcing the driver to retake control. The experience is likely to prevent the driver to keep his hands off the wheel.

Like the S-Class, the future E-Class will be able to brake automatically when detecting obstacles, prevent changing lanes when a vehicle is in the blind spot, and follow the motorcade at speeds up to 60 km/h.

"Innovations in this area are coming thick and fast. While we don't want to feed wrong expectations such as sleeping in the car, autonomous driving is set to become a reality much more quickly than the public thinks" stated Thomas Weber, Daimler's development chief.
Wolfgang Bernhart, automotive expert at Roland Berger Strategy Consultants Technology, said this tech is moving much faster than the laws can keep up. The legal stuff will have to eventually permit drivers to let go of the wheel in order to check emails or read the latest news. "If that's not the case, these features will be a hard sell," said Bernhart.

The Daimler F015 Luxury concept car presented at the Auto Show in Detroit in January, had rotating chairs, so the driver and passengers could stand face to face for a discussion, while the car drove itself. How quickly this vision actually becomes reality depends on how fast automakers, legislators and insurers are able to find legal answers to the tricky question of who exactly is responsible in case of an accident.
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