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Mercedes-Benz Tests Autonomous S-Class in Australia

December 19, 2017

Photo of the Mercedes-Benz autonomous S-Class in Frankfurt, Germany, courtesy of Daimler.
Photo of the Mercedes-Benz autonomous S-Class in Frankfurt, Germany, courtesy of Daimler.

Mercedes-Benz is testing its autonomous car technology on Australia roads, which present a special set of challenges, according to Car Advice. The test drives will be held from Sydney via Canberra and Albury to Melbourne.

Australia has increasingly installed electronic LED traffic signs that can shift displays and update information, according to WardsAuto. The new signs will test the test vehicle's digital camera and mapping capabilities, which include speed limit and distance assistance.

Another challenge facing the car will be Melbourne's hook turn, where vehicles wait in the far left lane to make right turns. This requires autonomous cars be able to identify a unique traffic sign and lane designation.

Finally, autonomous cars have difficulty detecting kangaroos, because they hop across roads and can reach speeds of up to 37 mph and jump heights of 4.9 feet. Other animals such as emus, koalas, and wombats are also commonly involved in accidents.

Mercedes-Benz will move testing to South Africa after Australia to evaluate the vehicle's pedestrian detection.

The test drives are part of the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent World Drive, where the automaker is testing the autonomous driving functions on its S-Class vehicle for five months across five continents. The Intelligent World Drive will conclude in Las Vegas for the Consumer Electronics show in January.

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