Like most automakers today, Mercedes-Benz has already been testing autonomous vehicles, mostly in Germany. The company is also making huge progress toward autonomous vehicles with the upcoming 2018 S Class, which features what the industry refers to as ‘Level 2’ autonomy. But for Mercedes, the goal is go hands-free.
The new S Class has the ability to steer itself for up to 30 seconds at a time and brake itself around corners, but the car requires the driver to have their hands on the wheel at all times. This limitation was imperative on the car, says driver assistance systems boss Christoph von Hugo to AutoCar.
“The S-Class is a major step in highly automated driving. We are working towards the revolution of launching Level 3 cars. When we do launch it, by the beginning of the next decade, it will be capable of managing critical situations,” von Hugo told AutoCar.
He went on to confirm the company’s goal is for its Level 3 vehicles to have the capability to be driven hands-free. Mercedes will take incremental steps to that goal between now and 2020, with the next iteration of the S Class’ technology expected in the 2018 A Class next year. Trickling the company’s flagship autonomous tech to one of its lowest product offerings is a strategy that doesn’t bother company management, apparently.
von Hugo confirmed Mercedes “would not wait another four years [when the next S-Class is due] to bring the next evolution.”
So far Mercedes-Benz has not confirmed which future products are likely to launch its Level 3 autonomous technology in or around 2020.