Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche has confirmed that the next steps in the company’s drive to create truly autonomous cars is ‘imminent.’
He also confirmed that the new technologies would address both parking issues and driving on the motorway; scenarios where the environment is more predictable and easily managed than, say, on a country road. His use of the word imminent strongly suggests the features will be launched on the new E-Class, which is Mercedes’ next all-new model line, a concept of which will be shown at the Frankfurt show in September.
Zetsche’s mentioning of ‘the highway’ is believed to refer to the Mercedes’s Highway Pilot technology making its production debut, which was first demonstrated in 2012. It allows a car using Distronic Plus cruise control to not only reduce speed to that of the car in front (as has been possible for years) but to check the outside lane and, if it’s clear, indicate, pull out, overtake the vehicle and, when safe, pull back into its lane - all without any input at all from the driver.
The parking technology is thought to enable the car to park itself without anyone needing to be in the car. So, if there is a space into which the car will fit but without sufficient clearance to allow the driver a dignified exit, he or she can get out in advance and ask the car to park itself. However the dream, of entering a multi-storey car park, getting out the other side of the barrier and telling the car to find its own space and then return on demand remains, for now at least, exactly that.