Mercedes-Benz is putting autonomous technology through testing in Aussie conditions, to better understand some of the quirks of our roads.
Along with more information about the flashing, variable-speed signs becoming prevalent on our highways, the test route – from Sydney to Melbourne, via Canberra and Albury – will also look to hone the way self-driving systems deal with wombats, koalas, emus and kangaroos crossing the road.
As Volvo has already discovered, kangaroos are particularly challenging for self-driving systems. They jump up to 1.5m high and travel at around 60km/h, making them hard to track. There’s also the issue of what to do once the car has detected the obstacle.
Perhaps most interesting, though, will be testing surround the infamous Melbourne ‘hook turn’. Rather than waiting in the right lane, hook turns force drivers to sit in the far-left lane to make their right-hand turn. To successfully deal with this traffic pattern, which is entirely unique, autonomous cars will need to recognise a hook-turn sign, pull into the correct lane and, crucially, only start driving when the traffic lights have changed.
The new Digital Light system will be put to the test while Mercedes-Benz is in Australia, too. Debuted in the F015 Concept in 2015, the system is designed to deliver a crisp, bright beam without dazzling oncoming drivers.
This testing is being undertaken as part of the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent World Drive, being carried out over five continents over five months. The road trip wraps up in Las Vegas, just in time for the start of the Consumer Electronics Show (CES).
Having started in Stuttgart, Mercedes put its cars to the test in Shanghai’s dense traffic, before analysing pedestrian detection in South Africa.