Motorway Pilot & Co.
What sounds utopian at first is already in use in initial projects.
Beyond this, there are already Mercedes-Benz models driving semi-autonomously on public roads today, equipped with features such as DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and the Stop&Go Pilot as a semi-autonomous traffic tailback vehicle following function. Active Parking Assist with PARKTRONIC allows automated parking with active steering and brake control in both parallel and end-on spaces.
THE “INTELLIGENT DRIVE” OF TOMORROW
Three further features are already set to enhance comfort and safety in Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in the near future. Drivers can save a lot of time with the Parking Pilot, for example. Controlled via an app on a smartphone, tablet or smartwatch, the car can be sent to park itself fully autonomously while the driver is already pursuing other activities. This requires an intelligent multi-storey car park capable of communicating with the 360° sensor system of the vehicle, identifying free parking spaces and guiding the vehicle there safely to park itself. This means that tight parking spaces can also be used, as no space is required for occupants to get in and out. Because just as the vehicle parks itself autonomously, the driver is also able to manoeuvre it out of the parking space autonomously using the app.
The second concept is a predictive route guidance system using Car2X communication. We are already familiar with this is in a slightly more basic form, when our navigation unit warns us of tailbacks and dense traffic ahead. Navigation units currently obtain their information from radio stations using the Travel Message Channel (TMC) or from the police or private providers using the General Packet Radio Service (GPRS). Major developments are on the horizon in this area, however. In the future vehicles will communicate amongst themselves and with the local traffic infrastructure, informing themselves in advance of possible obstacles so that alternative routes can be easily chosen.
As with the Parking Pilot, the 360° onboard sensor system will also allow use of the Highway Pilot. Particularly in stressful situations such as stop & go traffic, it will take over the navigation function and relieve the driver’s workload. The Highway Pilot observes and assesses the driving situation, vehicle surroundings and other road users, safely navigating the vehicle through the traffic. Speeds are not only adjusted to suit the traffic flow, but are also governed by the instructions from traffic control centres and by variable speed limits.
PILOT OPERATION IN THE USA
Daimler recently presented a form of the Highway Pilot in Reno, Nevada. This is where the Highway Pilot is being used for the first time in the Freightliner Inspiration Truck. What sounds utopian at first is already in use in initial projects.