So Mercedes has identified autonomous driving as an area in which it wants to take leadership in the car industry, promising on the eve of the Frankfurt motor show to bring such a car to production this decade.
It’s a bold claim, given the obstacles still to be overcome and outlined in our Mercedes Intelligent drive story, but you can see the logic for a premium brand car maker in offering cutting edge technology ahead of everyone else. After all, the Mercedes S-class has long been regarded as a technical showpiece – and this is just an extension of that.
Should we worry as car enthusiasts that someone wants to take the joy of driving from us? I think not, simply because Mercedes folk are talking about this being a high-end option rather than a de rigeur fitment. And let’s be honest, the high-end cars where such technology is likely to arrive are not exactly known as cars to be driven anyway.
What’s more, I can even see the benefit of it: I’d happily get on with something else while my car filtered me through traffic logged roads, for instance. Give or take the odd nervous glance up from the back seat, perhaps.
For all that, someone somewhere is going to have to take a very deep breath before they sign off on the legalities of it all. Insurance companies must be quaking in their air-conditioned offices even now, while you don’t need much imagination to consider the outcry the first time something goes awry – be it with the car, or the car, bike or person that hits it.
But a promise is a promise, and Mercedes has a reputation for delivering what it claims. As of tonight, the chance to find out what autonomous driving feels like is a little bit closer.