On the way to autonomous driving: Baden-Württemberg is setting the pace for the mobility of tomorrow

Daimler has the development expertise for autonomous driving – and Baden-Württemberg is open to innovation. Which means that the federal state is setting the pace for the mobility of tomorrow. Today the major progress on the way towards autonomous driving and the necessary parameters were the focus of the visit to Mercedes-Benz by Thomas Strobl, …

Daimler has the development expertise for autonomous driving – and Baden-Württemberg is open to innovation. Which means that the federal state is setting the pace for the mobility of tomorrow. Today the major progress on the way towards autonomous driving and the necessary parameters were the focus of the visit to Mercedes-Benz by Thomas Strobl, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for the Interior, Digitisation and Migration in Baden-Württemberg.

“Automated and autonomous driving are central topics in vehicle development at Mercedes-Benz. Self-driving vehicles in particular open up fascinating possibilities for the urban traffic of tomorrow. As part of the ‘Intelligent World Drive’, we are testing automated driving functions in e.g. the dense traffic of Shanghai or Los Angeles. We will be gradually bringing these technologies to market in the next few years. To this end we also need an internationally harmonised legislative framework,” says Ola Källenius, member of the Daimler AG Board of Management for Corporate Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

“A worldwide race is currently under way, a race for the mobility of the future,” said Deputy Minister President Thomas Strobl. “Politicians must keep pace with this transformation, and do even more: encourage it wherever possible. Just before the summer, a law commenced its passage through the Bundesrat which represents a turning point for our future mobility. It creates the conditions whereby automated driving can be tested here in Germany,” Minister Thomas Strobl continued. We have closed a very important gap between current legislation and technological development. Manufacturers and consumers now have the urgently necessary and solid framework and foundation for Germany to continue occupying a peak international position in the automotive sector.”

The Stuttgart-based automotive company is an advocate of an internationally harmonised legal framework for automated and autonomous driving. There is a need for action, especially in relation to international agreements on road traffic law, which set the binding framework for national legislation and which currently still compulsorily require a driver. Further changes are also important with regard to vehicle certification as well as data storage.

“Development progress towards automated driving is especially important for Baden-Württemberg as the birthplace of the automobile,” said Deputy Minister President Thomas Strobl. “We have always been well-advised to seek technological solutions to challenges. This is one of the great strengths of Germany, and Baden-Württemberg in particular. Gottlieb Daimler modestly forecast sales of around one million vehicles worldwide in his time, and attributed this to the shortage of available chauffeurs. In view of the more than one billion vehicles on the roads of the world today, he was quite wrong,” Minister Thomas Strobl emphasised. “Automated driving is now our contribution to ensuring that in the near future, the vehicle and driver can be one and the same.”

During his visit to Mercedes-Benz in Untertürkheim, Strobl had the opportunity to join the “Intelligent World Drive” over a short stretch and find out more about this unique project. The Deputy Minister President was also able to try out other innovations by the company related to autonomous driving, e.g. driverless parking, Urban Automated Driving and DIGITAL LIGHT.

Autonomous driving is one of the four strategic areas for the future which form an integral part of the corporate strategy of Daimler AG under the acronym CASE. CASE – these letters are shaping the future of mobility. They stand for networking (Connected), autonomous driving (Autonomous), flexible use (Shared & Services) and electric drive systems (Electric). The aim is to shape intuitive mobility for customers through intelligent dovetailing of the CASE topics.

“Intelligent World Drive Tour”: an automated worldwide test drive

With the “Intelligent World Drive”, Mercedes-Benz is testing automated driving functions and their current limitations in situations typical of different countries on all five continents, using a vehicle based on the current S-Class. In the process, journalists are given an insight into the methods used to develop and verify the latest assistance systems and future automated systems. Between now and January 2018, this S-Class will face a variety of complex traffic situations for test purposes. This means that in addition to the already existing and planned development and test vehicles in different countries, it will gather valuable experience on the way to autonomous driving.

After the launch at the IAA show in Germany in September and the first interim stop in China in October, there will be test drives in Australia in November and in South Africa in December. The final stop of the tour will be the CES show in Las Vegas in January. The purpose of the “Intelligent World Drive” is to collect information on what happens under real traffic conditions around the world, so that future automated and autonomous driving functions can be brought into line with country-specific user/traffic habits.

Automated Valet Parking: Entering and leaving parking spaces without a driver

Parking the car yourself is a thing of the past. Bosch and Daimler have jointly developed driverless parking (Automated Valet Parking), which saves time when entering and leaving parking spaces. A pilot project will commence at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in early 2018. A driverless valet parking service with test vehicles and operation by app will undergo first trials. Visitors in the Museum’s multi-storey carpark will be able to see this convenient service live.

The plan in the next pilot phase is to make customer operations possible with specially equipped, private Mercedes-Benz vehicles. The vehicle is conveniently left in the “drop-off” area of a multi-storey carpark by the customer, who then notifies the system using a smartphone app. After being registered by the intelligent system installed in the multi-storey car park, the car is started and guided to an assigned parking space. When the car is needed for the return journey home, it automatically drives itself to the “pick-up area”.

Driverless parking is made possible by an intelligent multi-storey car park infrastructure from Bosch in conjunction with the vehicle technology from Mercedes-Benz. Sensors installed in the car park monitor the driving corridor and its surroundings and steer the vehicle. The technology on board the car performs safe driving manoeuvres in response to the commands from the car park infrastructure, and stops the vehicle in good time when necessary.

Urban Automated Driving: A driverless car on demand

A car that can conveniently be called to the customer by app is another development focus for Mercedes-Benz. The aim of the current tests with vehicles based on V‑Class models is to intensively try out the latest generations of sensors in real inner-city traffic conditions.

New onboard features include lidar sensors deep learning technologies and graphics processors (GPUs), which previously have been scarcely used in the automotive sector. In December 2016, the Stuttgart regional council granted the carmaker permission to test the next generation of autonomous vehicles on public roads.

DIGITAL LIGHT: Non-dazzle continuous high beam in HD quality

As lighting also plays a key role on the road to automated and autonomous mobility, the Mercedes-Benz “Intelligent World Drive” is additionally testing a prototype headlamp featuring innovative DIGITAL LIGHT technology. This revolutionary lighting system enables features that were unveiled as a vision of the future in the F 015 Luxury in Motion research vehicle in early 2015. The non-dazzle continuous high beam in HD quality uses chips with over one million micro-mirrors, and therefore pixels, per headlamp. Among other things, DIGITAL LIGHT is thus able to project light corridors onto the road in order to communicate with the surroundings.

The requisite intelligent actuation logic for light control was developed in‑house by Mercedes-Benz. Via the car sensors, algorithms receive detailed information about the surroundings and from it calculate in real time the brightness value for each of the more than two million pixels. With this dynamism and precision, this intelligent system creates virtually endless possibilities for ideal, high-resolution light distribution which optimally adjusts to the surrounding conditions.