Mercedes-Benz E-Class: Self-driving across the highways of Nevada

The US state of Nevada has granted an autonomous driving test license to the new W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. This makes the new German sedan the first standard-production vehicle in the world to receive the special approval by the state.

Just in time to strut its stuff at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, three W213 vehicles have specifically been awarded with the license. The tests have been approved to be conducted on all interstate and state highways in Nevada, but Mercedes-Benz also explains that there are several terms that must be adhered to first.

One of these terms set by the state requires that at least two people be present inside an autonomous test vehicle at all times. One person must be seated behind the wheel because human drivers are required to perform turns, and the merging and departing of highways.

The tests themselves will be carried out amongst everyday traffic, and to make these vehicles easier to identify, they will be fitted with a red license plate reserved for autonomous driving vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz has also dismissed the need for its W213 E-Class to be fitted with special and additional hardware and software, such as various sensors, steering wheel modifications and adapted ESP systems.

The car maker claims that its production-ready W213 Mercedes-Benz E-Class is naturally equipped with sufficient tech to carry out these tests. It explains that only “some smaller software modifications to the Drive Pilot control unit” were required.

Since May 2015, Mercedes-Benz has been testing two self-driving Daimler trucks on public roads in Nevada. The company believes that the desert state’s road network, landscape and traffic volume are highly representative of road conditions throughout the USA.

Proudly, Daimler member of the board of management Thomas Weber said, “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. The new E-Class is therefore another big step to the fully automated vehicle.”

To clarify, a Kia Soul EV was also recently awarded with an autonomous driving test license by the state of Nevada. However, the Soul EV’s self-driving tech is only fitted to a test mule and isn’t featured in a production model yet.

Mercedes-Benz’s claim to being the “first standard production vehicle” to be given this approval is warranted because its autonomous driving tech will be available in its production-ready W213 sedan – as an optional item, we believe – that is set make a full debut in a matter of days.

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