The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class has become the world's first standard production car to have been granted a test license for researching self-driving technology on Nevada's public roads. 3 examples of the car will now be plying in regular traffic conditions in the American state.
At last year's Consumer Electronics Show, Audi tested an autonomous A7 concept on public roads by completing a 560mile journey from San Francisco to Las Vegas. The difference between the feats accomplished by Audi at last year's show and Mercedes-Benz at CES 2016 is that the new E-Class only required minor updates to its Drive Pilot control unit to make it fully-autonomous as the standard car itself comes equipped with a bunch of intelligent technologies. Mercedes claims that other autonomous test vehicles require lots of hardware and software additions like sensors, modified steering systems and an adapted electronic steering program, as was the case with the autonomous A7.
Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, said, "The fact that Mercedes- Benz is the world's first vehicle manufacturer to be awarded such a license shows that we are a step ahead when it comes to autonomous Driving. The new E-Class is therefore another big step to the fully automated vehicle."
The state of Nevada is seen as a pioneer in the field of autonomous technology as it passed regulations on self-driving vehicles back in 2011. The state allows self-driving tests to be performed on all interstate and state highways and only requires human inputs for turning, merging and departing. Additionally, the car must have 2 occupants present inside it during test drives of which one must be seated behind the wheel. 2 self-driving Daimler Feightliner Inspiration trucks have already been operating on Nevada's roads since May last year.