Following the report from last month citing that the 2016 Mercedes E-Class will have autonomous tech is a fresh report from Bloomberg claiming that the next-gen E-Class will go on sale in March next year and offer automated driving at highway speeds. “Innovations in this area are coming thick and fast”, said Thomas Weber, Daimler’s Head of Development, to the publication. The autonomous driving features will still be at a nascent stage though.
According to the report, the automated E-Class is already being tested on freeways and country roads in southern Germany near its plant in Sindelfingen. Its sensors and cameras kept it rightly in the middle of the lane, and helped it navigate around sharp bends. The speed was automatically adjusted to the speed limit given on sigh boards. It did get puzzled at times due to to tree shadows and temporary signs at construction sites, but managed to pass through dark tunnels. It clocked a top speed of 130 km/h in autonomous mode.
The prototype of the autonomous E-Class wasn’t able to take very sharp turns, but the production-ready vehicle will be capable of doing that, suggests the report. This isn’t a fully automated vehicle though. If the car’s sensors detect that the driver has taken hands off the steering wheel, the steering aid system immediately switches on a warning light, then beeps and then turns itself off, leaving no choice for the driver except taking control of the steering wheel.
The prototype has also succeeded in stopping automatically at a speed of 90 km/h during a simulated crash situation. The radars, cameras and sensors make the next-gen E-Class capable of stopping at speeds as fast as 65 km/h. Moreover, apart from braking, the system also guides around the obstacle in an extreme situation to help the driver gain back the car’s control.