The race has begun for car companies everywhere to manufacture an autonomous car. The concept is simple, but the execution has been difficult. Everybody cannot wait for Mercedes to release their Class- E car for the world to see.
What has so far only been shown in test situations will be available as of about March next year, when Daimler’s new model goes on sale. The technology packing the vehicle shows how quickly automated driving systems have advanced since 1998, when the Mercedes S class first featured cruise control that could adjust its speed to follow a car in front.
“Innovations in this area are coming thick and fast,” Thomas Weber, Daimler’s head of development, said in his office in Sindelfingen, near Stuttgart, Germany. “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.”
Self-driving systems are among many areas in which Mercedes is working to gain an edge on rivals Audi and BMW. Currently No. 3 in luxury-car sales, Daimler is fighting to take the lead in the segment by 2020.
It’s also testing the limits of what’s allowed under current regulations, which in most places require the driver to be in a position to control the vehicle at all times.
Apple’s loss of hundreds of engineers is now yesterday’s news. This is because, just one week later Apple flips the situation with a report from Financial Times. Apple now declares that they tend to hire many in the automotive industry to develop a secret, new feature with Mercedes-Benz. This story has grown due to WST and Reuters fanning the flame.
Among those hires? Johann Jungwirth, who until very recently was President and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America. His arrival, plus talk of other automotive engineers joining the ranks more quietly, has a lot of people speculating that Apple’s next one more thing will be a car.
I won’t rule out Apple rolling out something on wheels sometime down the road, but for now, the most likely applications of this vehicular know-how are a lot more subtle — but potentially a lot more interesting.
Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America, or MBRDNA as it’s more tersely known, is the Silicon Valley epicenter for M-B’s fancy thinking. I toured the facility when it opened in late 2013, and it is quite a place. Big and open and full of glass and brushed metal and, indeed, feeling very Apple-like.