MR GERN, EXPERT KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AUTONOMOUS DRIVING IS SPREADING RAPIDLY AROUND THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES KEEPING PACE?
Digitalisation, autonomous driving and connectivity have a decisive influence on our future vehicle concepts. Daimler therefore maintains a potent global research and development network with around 16,000 staff members. Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America has been in existence for over two decades in Silicon Valley. With a team of around 20, we were the very first OEM to set up a base there. We now have over 240 employees. We research the latest developments in the fields of autonomous driving, advanced user experience design, machine learning and business innovation. My team has been out on the roads of California since 2014. We were one of the first manufacturers to be granted a licence to trial self-driving vehicles in California. Yet our focus is on the autonomous driving of not just tomorrow, but also the day after tomorrow. For example, one of the main ideas behind our future vision of the self-driving vehicle, the F 015 Luxury in Motion, is a continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and outside world. The passengers can interact intuitively with the vehicle using gestures, eye-tracking or touch. We know that, in urban traffic of the future, the space will be shared between humans and machines. Therefore, the F 015 is able, among other things, to communicate audibly and visually with its environment and, for example, to project a zebra crossing onto the road. These are all ideas that are thought up here in Sunnyvale.
WHAT IS MERCEDES-BENZ’ APPROACH TO AUTONOMOUS DRIVING?
Mercedes-Benz is adopting a twin-track approach to the development of autonomous driving. With the further development of existing driver assistance systems, such as Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, which is capable of semi-autonomously following the vehicle in front in a traffic jam, we are adopting the so-called evolutionary approach. This will be gradually further developed. The second approach is the development of fully self-driving vehicles. Let us imagine, for example, that, one day, you can leave your vehicle at the entrance to a multi-storey car park and the vehicle then goes off and parks itself. Of course, it would also “pick you up” when you wish to continue your journey. Or imagine a car2go that makes its own way to you when you need one. We are also working on this revolutionary approach.