MERCEDES-BENZ AND BOSCH INTEND TO MAKE DRIVERLESS CARS A REALITY
The obsession of man with things that remain beyond the realm of reality has given rise to the genre of science fiction. As the ambit of science had spread its footprint, things that were considered impossible to even merit a discussion earlier became the reality of the day. In fact, the concept of driverless cars has been doing the rounds among automobile circuits for quite some time. A few attempts have been made in that direction to turn the concept into reality but it seems there is still some gap to be filled between the proverbial cup and the lip. Call it by any name, be it the driverless cars, autonomous cars, self driving cars, or robotic cars, what is now in the realm of science fiction is expected to become a reality by 2020 as announced by several automobile and tech companies.
Even though a few prototypes of such driverless cars have been seen on the tarmac on an experimental basis, they are not quite fully automatic to begin with. The reason being they still require some sort of human intervention during the course of the experimental exercise. The driverless cars in their true avatar are expected to be able to ‘see’ and ‘hear’ any kind of obstacle, recognise traffic signals, and analyse the movement of different types of vehicles on the road in order to chart their way to the destination.
As an offshoot of Internet of Things or IoT, driverless cars will have embedded technologies such as radar, cameras, laser beam, GPS, odometer, sensors, and many others to enable them drive without any human intervention. In the recent past, many a reputed automobile companies have evinced interest in building such cars and have reached agreements with tech or ancillary companies. A few such collaborations are Volvo and Uber, Fiat and Google, and Delphi & Mobileye. And the latest to join the ranks of such companies are Daimler and Bosch, wherein Daimler is the parent company that has used Mercedes-Benz name for luxury cars as its flagship brand and Bosch, one of the leading auto component makers in the world – both based in Germany.
The two companies are expected to leverage each other’s competencies to reach the twin goals of developing vehicles that are fully automatic (or driverless). These SAE level 5 cars will have software and algorithms of SAE level 4 running them, and are expected to hit the roads by the beginning of next decade. Along with bringing out driverless cars the companies aim to bring about a positive change in the urban driving environment. They hope to achieve this by utilizing smart systems to regulate traffic and enforce road safety.
By collaborating with Bosch, Daimler that has used Mercedes as its exclusive luxury brand by virtue of being its holding company wants to get into assembly line production of driverless vehicles instead of its prior plan of producing prototypes. According to the agreement, Mercedes shall have exclusive rights of using the jointly developed ‘system’ for a period of two years before the same could be shared with others. In this endeavor, Bosch shall be competing with firms such as Continental, Delphi, ZF and others. As the demand for automatic cars is expected to grow exponentially in the next decade (as predicted by consulting firm McKinsey,) Daimler shall be well placed to rake in the moolah.
Presently, self driving technology termed level 2 has used Mercedes E-Class as the vehicle to cruise ‘driverless’ on highways. And with level 5, the need for a steering wheel will be fully done away with. By aiming to develop driverless cars, Mercedes-Benz aims to tap into the burgeoning robo-taxi market of the future.