The Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the first production vehicle with an autonomous driving license. The announcement comes as the Consumer Electronics Show continues in Las Vegas, Nevada. Three production E-Class vehicles have been approved to drive autonomously on Nevada roads.
“Nevada is proud to serve as the location where Daimler, an international automotive leader, can explore and test the possibilities of its cutting-edge autonomous vehicle,” said Governor Brian Sandoval.
Mercedes-Benz is the first automaker to be awarded this type of privilege.
“The fact that Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first vehicle manufacturer to be awarded such a licence shows that we are a step ahead when it comes to autonomous driving,” said Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.
E-class test vehicles are equipped with advanced hardware and software to make autonomous driving possible, including additional sensors, modified steering, and an enhanced Electronic Stability Program. However, the new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is already equipped this way and only slight software modifications are needed for testing.
“The new E-Class is, therefore, another big step to the fully automated vehicle,” Prof. Weber said.
Nevada’s desert roads, landscape, and traffic volume are an ideal proving ground for autonomous driving. The tests are permitted on all roads in Nevada and during daily traffic. Specially trained drivers are required to be in the vehicles and The Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles maintains there must be a second passenger on test drives. The vehicles are denoted by a red licence plate.
Nevada passed regulations with regard to autonomous driving in 2011 and two self-driving Daimler trucks have been operating on public roads there since May. The state is looking to help pioneer the autonomous driving movement.
“By collaborating with revolutionary, sustainable, and creative endeavours, Nevada is working to be at the forefront of emerging, innovative technologies,” Governor Sandoval said.