Mercedes-Benz has always been on the very forefront of technological developments when it comes to cars. The German company has helped fast track the development and implementation of airbags, three-point safety belts, ABS, ESP and much more. Now it’s using automated driving to reproduce driving critical for safety tests.
The problem is relatively simple, how can a test be redone if a human is in charge of driving. The parameters (such as speed, angle, timing) can never be exactly replicated, plus it’s not exactly ideal to put drivers at risk when it can all be done using computers. As the saying goes, to err is human. Hence automated driving systems have been developed for test driving.
Although driver assist systems have been around for some time, such as blind spot recognition systems, lange change warnings as well as night view assistance, the next generation of these technologies can tackle much larger accident prone areas.
“With future driver assistance systems, we will be able to address even more complex traffic situations and therefore to ease the dangers of further accident hot spots – like intersections,” says Prof. Bharat Balasubramanian, Head of Product Innovations & Process Technologies at Corporate Research and Advanced Engineering Daimler AG. “Our new automated driving test methods help us to fulfil the extremely high quality and operational safety demands placed on our safety systems more efficiently.”
Autopilot systems that can drive cars are essentially vehicles equipped with “robots” for steering, acceleration and braking. All controls are linked up to anon-board computer and the system follows a predetermined course exactly the same each iteration.
If something goes wrong or the vehicle happens to go of course it will instantly detect the error and either stop it self when safe or log the issue. Mercedes says humans simply cannot react as quickly as a computer or perform the same maneuver repeatedly with such accuracy.
Apart from the regular style of driving tests, “automated driving” systems will be most beneficial in what Mercedes-Benz calls “extreme tests”. For example the car may be forced to drive heavily over a ramp or against a kerb. We just hope the cars aren’t smart enough to rebel!