The next major step for self-driving Mercedes vehicle will arrive by the beginning of the next decade, when a car will be able to manage some critical situations itself

Mercedes has been spotted testing an autonomous equipment-fitted E-Class on public roads in Germany, in preparation for more advanced autonomous systems, with a lidar sensor on the roof. 

A so-called Level 3 of autonomous driving is the next step following the launch of the brand’s updated S-Class luxury saloon which makes major headway with Level 2 autonomy, including being able to brake itself around bends and speed up again. The model can also steer itself for up to 30secs but requires that drivers have their hands on the wheel at all times.

The brand's models will offer hands-free driving for periods of time in the next three years, according to driver assistance systems boss Christoph von Hugo.

New Mercedes-Benz S-Class revealed

Full autonomous driving is labelled Level 5 by the automotive industry.

Von Hugo said: ”We have a headstart [on our rivals, with the S-Class]. We are working hard, investing resource to keep our lead.

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“The S-Class is a major step in highly automated driving. We are working towards the revolution of launching Level 3 cars. When we do launch it, by the beginning of the next decade, it will be capable of managing critical situations.”

He added that he did not want to bring a Level 3 system on Mercedes cars which would require the customer to be attentive at all times.

Referencing that the revised S-Class can’t always be relied on to understand variable speed limits, von Hugo said one “can not guarantee 100% reliability”. He added that at this stage, people enjoy the comfort and relaxation from the system but are still paying attention.

He acknowledged that this would have to be improved for Level 3. “We should become close to 100% reliable for adhering to speed limits.”

The next A-Class, due in 2018, is due to be the next model to receive the systems found in the S-Class, according to Britta Seeger, Mercedes sales boss.

Von Hugo added: “We will not restrict safety tech to the luxury segment. We will not affect overall traffic safety if we just put these systems in a few cars.”

He said that while it made sense to launch the system on the S-Class as its flagship car, Mercedes “would not wait another four years [when the next S-Class is due] to bring the next evolution”.

Read more about the revised S-Class 

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Comments
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6 June 2017
Just wondering, because autonomy is not something that anyone I know seems interested in. Is it the automotive equivalent of 3D television? i.e. aggressively pushed by manufacturers, but regularly used by only 1% of owners, used just once by 10% of owners, ignored by everyone else.

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Our Verdict

Mercedes-Benz S-Class

The self-proclaimed 'best car in the world' gets a touch more luxury, a heap of new technology and a mild hybrid electrical system, but is it enough to hold off the latest attempts from BMW and Audi?

Find an Autocar car review

Driven this week