Standard-production Mercedes E-Class awarded test license for autonomous driving in Nevada
08 January 2016
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been awarded a test licence for autonomous driving in the state of Nevada; specifically, three standard-production E-Class vehicles have been approved to drive themselves.
To allow autonomous driving functions to be tested, test vehicles previously had to be equipped with special hardware and software. This included additional sensors, modified steering and an adapted ESP. That is no longer the case with the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class. The standard-production vehicle is already extensively equipped with intelligent technology. This means that, for testing purposes, it is necessary merely to make some smaller software modifications to the DRIVE PILOT control unit.
Self-driving tests are permitted on all interstates and state highways in Nevada, human drivers being required only for turning, merging and departing. The autonomous test drives in everyday traffic will be carried out by specially trained test drivers. Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles (NDMV) rules also stipulate that there must be one passenger behind the wheel and a second passenger in the vehicle on test drives. The test vehicles are identified by a red licence plate reserved for autonomous driving.
Nevada passed regulations on autonomous driving back in June 2011 and is seen as a pioneer. Two self-driving Daimler trucks have been in operation on public roads since May 2015.