Automotive

First standard production cars given green light for autonomous driving in Nevada

Test drives in the autonomous E-Class will still be carried out by trained drivers
Test drives in the autonomous E-Class will still be carried out by trained drivers
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Test drives in the autonomous E-Class will still be carried out by trained drivers
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Test drives in the autonomous E-Class will still be carried out by trained drivers

The US state of Nevada has been a trailblazer in issuing licences for testing autonomous cars on public roads, with its first two going to Google and Audi back in 2013. Now, it has awarded its first licenses for autonomous standard production vehicles. Three new Mercedes E-Class vehicles have been approved to drive themselves.

A rep from Mercedes' parent company Daimler actually tells Gizmag that they believe it is the first such license to have been awarded anywhere in the world, but it's not only cars that have been being tested on Nevada's roads. Daimler has been testing two self-driving trucks in the state since last year. State governor Brian Sandoval says Nevada is proud to serve as a place where autonomous technology can be explored and tested.

"By collaborating with revolutionary, sustainable and creative endeavors, Nevada is working to be at the forefront of emerging innovative technologies," says Sandoval. Member of the board of management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development Prof. Thomas Weber says, meanwhile, that being awarded the first such licence shows that Mercedes is a step ahead of competitors and that the new E-Class is "another big step to the fully automated vehicle."

Test drives in the autonomous E-Class will still be carried out by trained drivers, with one passenger required by law to be behind the wheel and a second to also be in the vehicle. Human drivers are still required for turning, merging and departing.

The new E-Class is on display at CES. The video below gives an insight into the development of the car.

Source: Mercedes-Benz

The development of the E-Class.

5 comments
Stephen N Russell
I volunteer for same test drives in So CA market.
Bob
How many people will have to die before they give up on this autonomous car and truck nonsense? I would never trust a car to drive for me. There are just too many possible hazards that would have to be programmed for. What happens when the computer choice is a head on crash or a telephone pole or a deep ravine? The possibilities for mischief and even terrorism are endless. Even a close lightning strike could cause loss of control. I remember when several computers were fried from a close lightning strike where I worked inside a metal building which theoretically should have shielded them. What about an EMP from whatever source? Hackers with remote transmitters could kidnap people or hijack cargo. Did everyone forget the runaway cars just a few years ago?
pickypilot
Oh, good grief. Why don't you just have someone walking ahead of your car carrying a lantern? I've been driving my semi-autonomous Tesla for several months now. I can see the potential for even safer driving once the human element is removed.
MonteGerlach
So many long term benefits once standard Fewer dui's, less polution, fewer accidents, less congestion on roads, lower costs, and police can focus on important tasks due to less speeding/accidents.
Mel Tisdale
Here are some of my concerns regarding autonomous vehicles: 1 Positional information from GPS can be jammed 2 Positional information from lane markings can be obscured by snow. 3 Positional information from inertial navigation very expensive considering the precision required 4 'The driver' will be susceptible to drowsiness and thus in no condition to take over if the system fails in some way 5 Detection of the potential for black ice difficult if not impossible, therefore speed will be maintained presenting a danger to all in the vicinity as vehicle skids out of control 6 Detection of standing water difficult if not impossible, thus creating a danger to all in the vicinity as vehicle aquaplanes out of control 7 Detection of sink holes in time difficult if not impossible. Depending on size this could involve a multitude of vehicles putting the occupants in grave danger 8 Detection of a bridge having been swept away difficult if not impossible in time to avoid dropping into the river below. 9 Autonomous vehicles will stop in a known distance. This paves the way for thieves to step in front with little risk while another in the group steps behind leaving a third to rob the occupants 10 Semi-autonomous technology will be tarred with the same brush when autonomous vehicles have been judged too dangerous following their being blamed for fatal collisions. Surely a better plan is for development of this technology to be halted at the semi-autonomous stage while the current fleet slowly loses it war of attrition against old age. When all current vehicles are operating in semi-autonomous mode so that they cannot go faster than is safe, cannot cross a red light cannot leave their lane without the driver having taken control for some reason etc. etc. Then is the time to take stock and decide whether to go fully autonomous based on a wealth of experience of almost doing so instead of the hell for leather rush we are currently in to get them into production before they, or we, are really ready. I imagine that insurance premiums of semi-autonomous vehicles will be significantly reduced as the benefits become obvious, which should speed up the transition from the present fleet to a fully semi-autonomous one, thus bringing forward the above mentioned decision regarding whether to adopt fully autonomous operation. In the meantime, I suggest that anyone genuinely interested in this topic read Nicholas Taleb's The Black Swan. They might then understand my less than enthusiastic approach to these vehicles.