In today’s day and age, we are going through a thorough car transportation revolution. For a few years now, car manufacturers have slowly been inching towards a more automated driving experience.
Nowadays manufacturers like Tesla have brought autonomous self-driving tech into the center stage of this revolution, and Mercedes, Audi, Cadillac, Ford, and many others are starting to catch up.
Even though the majority of this technology is still unused due to legal reasons, from a consumer’s perspective, self-driving makes the journey smoother and more relaxing. Mercedes offers self-driving capabilities to an extent in a few of its models, primarily the flagship S-class sedan.
Mercedes has recently unveiled the new 2021 Mercedes S-Class flagship sedan. Even though some older Mercedes S-Class models were offering some stages of autonomy when it comes to driving, but the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive fitted to the new S-Class is a big leap towards a Mercedes automated future.
The autonomous driving capability system works through the Mercedes Intelligent Drive system that consists out of Active Lane Assist, Active Blind Spot Assist, Attention Assist, Active Parking Assist, Collision Prevention Assist, and some other Mercedes assistance systems.
Mercedes reckons that this S-Class is capable of a level 4 SAE driving autonomy, which means that the S-Class is already packed with all the tools necessary for absolute autonomous driving. For legal reasons, these technologies are not yet available, as it is fairly tricky to decide who is to blame in an event of a crash.
A new S-Class always introduces new pieces of technology that help drive the future of the automotive industry. In a fierce race towards the progression of automated driving technologies, Tesla still leads the pack, but many German, US, and Japanese brands are certainly in for the run.
But what if there was no legal boundary as to how far can a manufacturer push the road-legal self-driving technology? For Mercedes, it would be the Mercedes F-015 concept. Mercedes pitches the F-105 as the very peak of luxury autonomous excellence.
The F-015 is capable of delivering a completely autonomous driving experience that made Mercedes rethink the very essentials of interior space and luxury. The interior of the F-015 is more akin to a minimalist Swedish winter cabin living space than it is to a regular car interior.
Some would think that cars like the F-015 are irrelevant because they are not road-legal, and they are only made to showcase how a luxury Mercedes would look like if there are no legal boundaries. But quite, on the contrary, many autonomous driving technologies that have debuted on the F-015 have found their way into the S-Class.
Other Mercedes models that offer some level of autonomous driving
Mercedes has stated that in 2024 all Mercedes models will take advantage of the autonomous driving technologies that have long been a part of the S-Class lineage. Current Mercedes models offer a partially autonomous set-up that serves more like a driving assistance setup rather than a true self-driving set-up.
The systems in question are the automated cruise control that can keep a safe distance from the cars in front, the system is also able to slow down or speed up. Furthermore, systems like Active Lane Assist or Blind Spot Assist are a part of many newer Mercedes models.
Some systems like the Mercedes Parking Assist can park the car all by itself, but a geofenced environment is needed, and a decent level of driver involvement is still necessary. Other pieces of equipment such as 360 cameras and all-around parking sensors are also necessary for these technologies to work.
Does Tesla offer better self-driving technology than Mercedes?
As of right now, no consumer car manufacturer can match Tesla when it comes to automated driving. Teslas are purpose-built cars with a clear end-goal of full autonomy. Mercedes focuses on luxury and comfort primarily, and only then the autonomous driving technologies are considered.
Tesla even pioneered the term ‘’Autopilot’’ in the car industry, just like the technology itself. Some car manufacturers like Audi or Cadillac are also offering autonomous driving capable cars, but the majority of these systems are still not available due to legal reasons.
What do the SAE autonomous levels mean?
The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) has come up with a system that defines 6 levels of self-driving capabilities. Level 0 offers no driving automation, Level 1 is a car equipped with a cruise control system that is able to keep a safe distance from the car in front.
Level 2 (Partial Driving Automation), also called ADAS (Advanced driver assistance systems) certified cars like some Cadillacs for example can accelerate/decelerate the car, and can also steer the car. Level 3 (Conditional Driving Automation) systems can make decisions such as accelerating past a slower moving vehicle, a similar system is offered in the Audi A8.
Level 4 (High Driving Automation) is different from level 3 because it also can intervene in a tricky situation, or a system failure is at hand, but they still offer a steering wheel, and they have to be geofenced. Level 5 (Full Driving Autonomy) cars don’t even offer a steering wheel or pedals, they are fully independent.
Are there any indications about self-driving cars becoming the norm?
Some engineers applaud the idea of full autonomy in a post-Covid world, where a fully autonomous car can even satisfy your contactless needs. Many experts do believe that in 15-20 we will live in a fully autonomous era.
These aspirations and ambitions bring a ton of legal questions into the equation as well, so it’s very hard to tell when this is actually going to take place. But when it eventually does happen, a human will no longer operate a motor vehicle on an open road.
Many people applaud this for obvious reasons, but for us, car enthusiasts, these ideas are somewhat concerning. Maybe there will be a revolution in car enthusiasm as well, just like with all the performance EVs nowadays.
Times are uncertain and full of wishful thinking, the car industry is pushing the transition forward incredibly fast. Porsche is keen on offering the Cayman as an electric sports car only, Audi states that they will no longer develop internal combustion engines, and Tesla, well, who knows what Tesla will do.