Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Here’s Johnnycab! Mercedes Plans Dramatic Expansion of Drive Pilot Semi-Autonomous Driving

2014-mercedes-benz-s550-interior-photo-547272-s-986x603

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Autonomy, it transpires, isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition—and it looks like we can expect a series of incremental steps on the way to the shining future of the take-you-anywhere, robot-driven Johnnycab, as predicted in Total Recall. Mercedes-Benz, having announced an improved Drive Pilot semi-autonomous system at CES, now has confirmed that it plans to offer the self-piloting technology throughout its range and that, within five years, the majority of its cars will be so equipped.

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The enhanced Drive Pilot will be able to deal with a far greater range of challenges than the current system, which made its debut in last year’s E-class. While the company claims that the existing Drive Pilot can safely operate the car about 20 percent of the time, the new system will be able to work about 80 percent of the time, although it will still require the driver to prove he or she is paying attention through occasional inputs. It will appear first in the facelifted S-class that goes on sale later this year and will be available in lesser models shortly afterward.

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Johnny-Cab

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“Our underlying architecture enables us to introduce new innovation,” Mercedes R&D boss Ola Källenius told us at the Detroit auto show. “We’ll launch it in the S-class and then very quickly roll it out to other models as well. We don’t want to just sell thousands of something; we want to be able to sell hundreds of thousands very quickly.”

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Kallenius confirmed that the plan is to offer Drive Pilot on the company’s entire range of passenger cars, and he anticipates that more than 50 percent of Mercedes will be ordered with it by 2022.

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“We have always, traditionally, had a very high take rate on any of our safety systems or assistance systems,”Källenius said. ”People who buy Mercedes know that we’re pioneering in terms of developing safety technologies.”

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