Mercedes-Benz sees Beijing as the site for its self-driving car push, seeing as more and more Mercedes-Benz cars are being used in Daimler self-driving car tests in the city. What does this mean for the future in automated vehicles? Will this push work?
Daimler will finally be able to take its next step towards self-driving technology – its fleet of Mercedes-Benz self-driving vehicles may now be able to conduct its tests in Beijing’s public streets. What perhaps makes this interesting is that this is a China first, as Daimler will be the first non-Chinese company to be able to actually win the license to conduct Level 4 testing of self-driving vehicles in the country.
It can be remembered that Level 4 is just one step closer to Level 5 autonomous driving, where cars can now operate without having the need for human input in specific conditions. If these tests herald the arrival of autonomously-driven cars, then you might even be able to take a nap inside these vehicles.
These Mercedes-Benz vehicles are outfitted with technology courtesy of Baidu Apollo, the official partner of Daimler, and have appeared to have undergone rigorous testing in closed-courses in Hebei and Beijing before authorities from China even granted the Level 4 testing license. During these trials, the self-driving cars will still have human drivers inside them for the assistance, especially if anything goes wrong. Daimler specified that Beijing’s “complex and unique” urban traffic will help make sure testing and improving its self-driving technology become much closer to reality. This is also the next step towards Daimler’s push for better self-driving cars.
Interestingly, Daimler also had acquired the license to test their batch of automated vehicles inside Germany and the United States. Meanwhile, China has also opened a lot of public roads to trials for self-driving cars this year. It can be remembered that China initially only allowed Chinese companies like Baidu, Nio, and SAIC to be able to conduct autonomous driving testing in Beijing and Shanghai.
Interestingly, the move with Mercedes, Daimler, and Bosch from making their own fleet of self-driving taxis can be considered a practical course of action, given rivals such as Waymo and BMW are already on their way in the limelight as well. BMW is already making plans to have self-driving cars available for sale in as early as 2021, and Waymo wants to other a lot of Chrysler vans for its own special tests.
Meanwhile, Daimler appears to be banking on taxis and their purpose-built nature. Instead of their self-driving potential being confined to a serial vehicle with a technology kits, they want to design their own slate of taxis in such a way that they’re built to be autonomous “from the beginning.” If they pull this off successfully, this can give them an edge in terms of performance and ergonomics compared to cars simply outfitted with the technology.
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