Self-driving Mercedes to hit Nevada

Published: 07 January 2016

► Autonomous E-class to be tested in Nevada
► Trials will be carried out on public roads
► Self-driving Kias also undergoing testing

Mercedes-Benz has been granted special permission by the state of Nevada to test autonomous versions of its upcoming E-class on public roads.

The Mercedes being tested require only software modifications in order to allow autonomous driving, thanks to their substantial standard sensor, radar and camera fitment.

Consequently, the cars being tested are effectively standard production cars, instead of the typically heavily modified autonomous testbeds. It’s the first time Nevada has issued a test permit for such a car, which will be trialled on both motorways and inner-city areas.

Professor Thomas Weber, a Mercedes-Benz board member, 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.'

Nevada has been a key test site for autonomous cars since it passed regulations on the technology in 2011. Its roads, traffic conditions and landscape are reputedly representative of conditions in much of the USA, making it quick and easy for manufacturers to assess new autonomous cars and technology.

Any autonomous car being tested will have a red numberplate, so if you’re taking at trip out to Nevada soon, perhaps give those cars a wide berth.

Kia has also recently been granted permission to test its autonomous cars on Nevada’s roads, but they will be concepts and prototypes instead of production-ready models.

By Lewis Kingston

Formerly of this parish. Inveterate car buyer and seller; currently owner of a '68 Charger project car