Mercedes-Benz is putting robot stunt drivers in the front seat in the hopes that bots can make the cars safer for humans.
Mercedes says its production-series cars equipped with robotic systems are the first in the world to test computer-controlled safety maneuvers, such as near-misses, that can't be reproduced by human drivers.
In the test cars, separate robot systems control steering, acceleration, and braking. An onboard computer runs the machines so the vehicle follows a programmed course on a closed test track.
Aside from collision avoidance in near-misses, Mercedes says it's examining maneuvers such as merging at different speeds and distances and emergency braking in front of vehicles that suddenly swerve. The carmaker says the benefit of this system is that development engineers are kept away from dangerous situations, and the results are reproducible.
Furthermore, a number of robot-driven vehicles can act together to test diver-assistance functions that would handle near-misses and emergency braking to avoid slower traffic ahead.
Even though most of us are still manually driving our cars, vehicles are becoming increasingly automated with a raft of technologies such as adaptive cruise control, parking assist, and lane-keeping functions. I just can't wait for the turbo boost.