Every country is unique. Different culture, different history, different road conditions. Australia, with its sometime extreme weather and large outback is no different. What exactly differentiates Australia from the rest of the world is up for debate, whether it’s the wind barraged roads near the Twelve Apostles, the gravelly Great Ocean Road, or the unique car signs in Sydney, it seems that Mercedes-Benz has found great potential in Australia’s uniqueness.
Part of their efforts to develop autonomous driving technology into a reliable, safe, and trustworthy product, Mercedes-Benz has let one of its autonomous prototypes, in this case; a Mercedes-AMG E43, loose on the Australian asphalt.
Jochen Haab, the man in charge of this endeavour, and Mercedes-Benz’s Manager for Validation and Communication of Driver Assistance Systems, has revealed information and answered inquiries regarding this test, which will cover the myriad of driving conditions that can be experienced throughout Australia.
According to Mr. Haab, the vehicle is the property of the Australian chapter of Mercedes-Benz, and will stay in the country until the launching of the Mercedes-Benz S Class line, after which it will leave, presumably for other roads for testing in another country, within 6 to 12 months. He states that Australia’s relative remoteness as a country means that this is the first time a test of this kind has happened. The local test is for a pilot program.
Haab emphasizes the point of this excursion is to test the autonomous system in various scenarios that would be experienced by the average driver, in actual roads, not the controlled environs of a test track. He adds that local, everyday data, is important to the testing process, on top of potential collision situations, off-track roads not easily noticed by GPS, etc.
Haab states that he hopes they will be able to develop the system to handle this, and the idiosyncrasies particular to Australian roads. For example, German signs glow, Australian ones do not. So the program might be able to recognize the lights of car signs in Frankfurt, but what about those car signs in Sydney?
The data from the test will include a variety of people, their driving methods, the road conditions, on top of hundreds of variables and measurements that the program should be familiarized with. Haab states that whilst it’s impossible to get the software ready for any possible scenario, he states that they hope to get as close as mathematically possible.