(Reuters) Competitor Mercedes-Benz says it has built a similar device, but stops short of allowing members of the public to take it on urban roads, as Tesla promotes the cutting edge quality of its current Complete Self Driving program. The German leaders in the development of advanced driver assistance systems ( ADAS) are taking a step-by – step approach to the release of new technologies, waiting for the approval of their system by their own engineers rather than by the general public. Both methods are planned to drive increasingly automated driving on public roads, one conservative and one progressive in nature, a move that could significantly reduce accidents as machines have better accident-avoidance reflexes than humans.
In restricted circumstances, advanced driver assistance systems may provide steering, braking, and acceleration support, normally on highways. In order to let cars handle urban traffic, carmakers have refrained from depending on their technology.
“Last week, when Tesla launched its FSD app, which enables its computer-powered cars to exercise their reflexes in inner-city traffic situations, Tesla broke this pattern with a warning that its cars” May Do The Wrong Thing At The Worst Moment.
Mercedes would not authorize members of the public to test systems that are still experimental. In order to become test drivers, its engineers need to pass an eligibility exam, and another exam for testing automated driving systems, the carmaker said.
Mercedes wants its cars to be validated by engineers rather than forcing consumers to place their faith in processors, software, and the ability of machines to learn over time, so that they remain predictable for owners.
“We don’t want blind faith. In the car, we want educated confidence. A Mercedes spokesman told Reuters on the sidelines of the carmaker’s test track in Immendingen, Germany, “The consumer wants to know precisely what the car can and can not do.”
“If the car gets into a complicated situation, the worst thing would be if there was doubt about whether the car is in charge or not,” he said.
This is why the Stuttgart-based Daimler AG-owned carmaker stresses its decades-old experience with automated driver assistance systems as it seeks global regulatory approval for its Level 3 automated Drive Pilot system.
Level 3 means that the driver will take their eyes off the wheel legally and, depending on the jurisdiction, the company, Daimler in this case, will have to accept insurance responsibility.
The new structure of Tesla allows clients to take responsibility for every accident.
Logical next step
In 2009, Mercedes-Benz began using camera-based systems to provide traffic light recognition and assistance systems for lane-keeping. In 2013, to incorporate field depth and pedestrian awareness for emergency braking features, it switched to stereo cameras.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk learned about camera- and radar-based assistance systems in a joint development project between the Tesla Model S and the Mercedes-Benz electric B-Class, senior engineers familiar with the project told Reuters.
Next year, Mercedes plans to launch Drive Pilot and is pitching it as an evolution of its 2013-launched Distronic system that uses cameras and radar to hold cars in the lane and a proper distance from the front of the vehicle.
For cross-reference data obtained by radar, ultrasonic sensors, high definition mapping, radar, and cameras, Drive Pilot can install a new lidar sensor.
“It’s Distronic’s paradigm shift, but it’s a strategic evolution. This is the logical next step for us, and it’s not aiming for the stars,’ Michael Decker, Mercedes-Benz Cars Automated Driving Boss, said while standing on the sidelines of the company’s Immendingen research campus, where Mercedes hones autonomous driving systems.
Decker drives the car on a stretch of road mocked up to mimic an autobahn behind the wheel of the new S-Class, and selects Drive Pilot. In order to maintain its position in moving traffic, the car glides smoothly, offering gentle braking and steering inputs.
“He said,” I spend much of my time dealing with edge cases, those unusual circumstances we need to get under control. Once the legal structure requires, the Mercedes Drive Pilot can only operate at up to 60 kilometers an hour and will attain higher speeds.
It can run in Germany only on highways from mid-2021, if a new law is passed.
“Since we use high-definition mapping as one of our validation systems, if a car crosses the border into France, it will disengage, and France has not established a legal structure to allow this system to function,” Decker said.
They seem unruffled, while Mercedes engineers are aware of Tesla’s more aggressive approach to selling their systems.
“Yes. Yeah. We’ve always taken this path. And we see now that we’ve got the right plan,’ said Decker.
“What is essential here is safety. This is about making a framework that is mature. Mercedes safety standards, like speed, stand above and above all.
(Reporting by Edward Taylor in Frankfurt. Editing by Matthew Lewis.)