Car Torque: Self-drive S Class
SELF-DRIVE S CLASS
Mercedes-Benz has closed the gap between self-propelled vehicle and self-drive vehicle by sending an S Class on the same route driven by Martha Benz 125 years ago – but sans driver.
In August 1888, Karl Benz’s wide Martha embarked on a 100km journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim in Germany, to demonstrate the viability of the motor vehicle over long distances.
Mercedes-Benz sent an unmanned S Class over the same route last month, to demonstrate the viability of the autonomous car. The maker claims the S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle was equipped with modified versions of technology already available on its production S Class and E Class models.
Among the changes: the range of the stereo camera was increased to allow the car to “see” further down the road, six additional radars were fitted, a new colour camera monitored traffic lights and a further camera was mounted at the rear to identify known environment features.
The autonomous S Class carried a comprehensive database of possible responses to traffic situations established during testing, where expert drivers were able to monitor the car and intervene. Recordings were made of all incidents, enabling the car to “learn” from testing.
Mercedes says that one of the biggest obstacles to the self-driving car is not technology but legislation. Special legal dispensation was granted to the company for the 100km run, but some European law prohibits autonomous motoring. For example, EU regulations allow for automatic steering correction, but require the driver to be in control above 10km/h.
Mercedes aims to have a driverless car on the market by 2020. It says a key to the technology is further development of “Car-to-X” communication systems, which allow cars on the road to exchange information and generate real-time traffic and mapping information.
WATCH NISSAN GO
Nissan has launched the world’s first “smart watch” that can connect to a car. The watch can monitor a vehicle’s fuel consumption and average speed, provide telemetry during track driving, capture biometric data from the user and connect directly to the car using a bespoke application.
The watch will be marketed under Nissan’s Nismo performance brand; it even comes in packaging constructed from recycled tyres from racetracks. It’s powered by a lithium battery and charged by micro-USB, with a life of seven days.
G20 GOES GREEN
Delegations to the G20 summit in St Petersburg last week travelled in the all-electric Mitsubishi iMiEV. Mitsubishi’s local distributor provided a fleet of 70 iMiEVs to the Presidential Administration of the Russian Federation for the G20 programme – the first time the Administration has used electric vehicles in an official capacity.