Daimler has become the first international automaker to receive a road test licence for highly automated driving research vehicles (level 4) in Beijing, marking a major new milestone in the company’s research and development efforts in China.
Urban traffic is one of the biggest challenges to autonomous driving. With this approval, Mercedes-Benz test vehicles will now begin real road tests to further perfect the technology in the Chinese capital of Beijing, a metropolis with unique and complex urban traffic situations.
Daimler has already obtained automated driving test licences in Germany and the U.S., and has continuously pushed forward automated driving development in China, working together with its local partners to adapt its technologies to China’s traffic environment.
To qualify for the licence, Mercedes-Benz vehicles, equipped with additional technical applications from Baidu Apollo, undertook extensive testing at the National Pilot Zone (Beijing and Hebei) for Intelligent Mobility, with test drivers receiving rigorous automated driving training.
Prof. Dr. Hans Georg Engel, Head of Mercedes-Benz Research and Development China: “Backed by strong local partners, our R&D in China results in concrete innovations that allow us to achieve sustainable development today and into the future.
“This expanded research into automated driving will provide a strong base for developing further automated driving technology that addresses the challenges posed by China’s unique traffic environment, in order to further ensure that our technology and products offer the safety and convenience our customers expect.”
Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz S‑Class and E‑Class sedans already offer partially automated driving technology through Intelligent Drive assistance systems. New Digital Light technology increases safety through extending the visual support for driving assistance systems through sensors that detect other road users and adapt light distribution in all situations.
Daimler has also actively expanded local R&D in the fields of automated driving and vehicle safety, extending its cooperation with local partners. Together with Baidu, Daimler is engaging in research on safer solutions in automated driving for China through the open source Apollo autonomous driving platform.
The goal is a deep understanding of the special requirements for automated driving in China, and to develop an early intuition regarding local technical trends.
In addition, through their joint Research Center for Sustainable Transportation, Daimler and China’s renowned Tsinghua University since 2012 have supported research projects related to sustainable transportation in a China-specific road environment.
With a focus on increasing safety for all road users, research conducted by the centre has included gathering data on typical traffic situations, research on ‘vision-based detection of vulnerable road users’ (VRU), and creating digital models of the East Asian human body proportions for simulation of crash tests.