Footage has been released that shows the Mercedes-Benz S500 Intelligent Drive test vehicle as it completed the first fully autonomous 100km drive. Using Nokia’s “Here” mapping division the prototype car was able to model “every centimetre” of the journey from beginning to end in 3D.
In a nod to the past, the route followed by the S500 took it from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany, a deliberate echo of the journey that was made in 1888 by Bertha Benz in the Benz Patent Motorwagen, the world’s first automobile. Villages and small cities, as well as rural roads and highways, were all navigated by the car without driver intervention.
With radar fitted at both the front and back of the car, together with a stereoscopic camera that gives the car 360-degree vision, the S500 prototype had an unparalleled view of the road. Meanwhile the “intelligence” was supplied by software that recognises other cars, cyclists and pedestrians, as well as road signs, traffic lights and buildings.
According to Eberhard Kaus, the chief project engineer, the safety systems fitted in the S500 Intelligent Drive may even have benefits over human drivers, including a wider field of vision, faster reactions and a lack of fatigue.