Yep, you read right. Mercedes new E-class vehicles can overtake other vehicles and steer around bends by itself; completely automated, and even at speeds over 70mph!
The technology is so new that current laws don’t actually allow it on roads, so the manufacturer will have to amend it to be inoperable at the moment. The cars can also stop by themselves if there’s no hands on the wheel for a set amount of time, or if drivers don’t respond to alerts – which could make up an incredible safety feature. They can also follow other cars for a set distance at up to 130mph, brake to avoid pedestrians or traffic, and warn drivers of accidents or congestions ahead on their route.
So how does automated overtaking work? Well, first the driver activates cruise control, and then holds the indicator for 2 seconds to instruct the car. The car’s in-built cameras and radar then scans the road in front of and behind the vehicle, and the on-board computer completes some safety checks before manoeuvring itself. The driver can then resume normal control by either gripping the wheel, or hitting the brakes.
Mercedes say the new cars are “the world’s most intelligent executive saloons, and the next step on the road to autonomous driving”. The first deliveries will be open to orders from UK customers next month, and will cost from £35,935. But, the overtaking functionality will not be included until, or if, the law changes to allow it. The E-class is already available in Germany, where the autonomous technology is legal on the de-restricted high-speed autobahns.
A Mercedes spokesperson commented on the current legislation to the Daily Mail, saying ‘We are hoping the law to be changed in Britain in the first half of this year. It will do it on multi-lane roads. It is already legal in Germany; so you could pick up a car in Germany and drive it to the UK. Currently it will only do autonomous driving only for short bursts. After a few seconds it requires you to put your hands back on the wheel. A warning flashes up on the screen telling you to put your hands back on the wheel. But it could drive itself the whole time if the law allowed it”.
Last year Mercedes-Benz sold 27,000 executive E-Class models, about one in five of all the brand’s 144,000 sales in the UK.
What are your thoughts on cars overtaking by themselves – would you try it out? Let us know at @Liftshare!
Photo credit: Pixabay