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Mercedes-Benz Autonomous Technology Draws Attention at Frankfurt Auto Show

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Sept. 17, 2013—Mecedes-Benz revealed its S500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle this week at the 2013 Frankfurt Auto Show in Germany, announcing a plan to make the self-driving vehicle a commercial reality by 2020.

Much of the talk at this year’s Frankfurt Auto Show has been centered on new vehicle technology—hybrid, electric and autonomous vehicles, specifically. Tech companies such as Nokia, IBM, Continental and Google, and virtually all the world’s top automakers are now involved in autonomous car development. The technology is designed with the goal of minimizing accidents, quickening travel and creating less congestion and pollution.

The Mercedes-Benz S500 is positioning the luxury brand at the forefront of the race to make these vehicles commercially viable.

In August, the S500 completed a test drive of more than 64 miles, retracing the very same test drive route of the first-ever passenger car in 1988. And although it was not a complete self-driving experience, the car faced a number of complex situations including traffic lights, roundabouts, pedestrians, cyclists and trams.

"For us, autonomous vehicles are an important step on the way to accident-free driving," said Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. "They will bring greater comfort and safety for all road users. That's because autonomous vehicles also react when the driver is inattentive or fails to spot something. On top of that, they relieve the driver of tedious or difficult tasks while at the wheel."

Mercedes notes that the success of the test drive was not achieved using extremely expensive special technology, but rather with the aid of near-production-standard technology the company already uses in its new E- and S-Class vehicles. Both models have autonomous features that allow the vehicle to start, stop and turn (on curves up to 15 degrees) without any driver interaction.

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