We aren’t so much inching towards autonomous cars as we are hurtling inexorably towards being driven to work by small robots that live in our dashboards, and the latest evidence of this comes from Mercedes-Benz boss Dieter Zetsche, who says the arrival of autonomous cars is “imminent.” His wording suggests that the first Mercedes to receive autonomous tech will be the next E-Class, which is slated to arrive for the 2017 model year as an all-new model. A concept E-Class will be shown in September at the Frankfurt Motor Show.

Zetsche confirmed that the next generation of Mercedes would be able to drive on the highway and park without driver input. This will likely be the first consumer application for Mercedes’s Highway Pilot system. First demonstrated in 2012, Highway Pilot uses 360-degree sensors to monitor surrounding traffic, and Distronic Plus cruise control (already available in current Mercedes) to adjust speed in response to the car in front of it. It also checks adjacent lanes for passing opportunities and, if clear, will signal, pass and rejoin the lane. Someday, human drivers might even be capable of this.

When it comes to parking, don’t expect to jump out of your Merc wherever you want, send it off to find a parking spot and summon it with your smart phone when you’re ready to leave, at least not yet. For the short-term, it will still be up to humans to find parking spots, but once that’s done, your next Mercedes will park itself without hitting cars or other objects. Again, something human drivers might someday be capable of.

Continue reading to learn more about the next generation Mercedes E-Class.

Why it matters

Many luxury cars sold today already have some sort of adaptive cruise control and most of the hardware needed — sensors, GPS, computers, LIDAR — for autonomous driving. Right now, car companies are sitting on their hands, waiting to unleash the software required to bring these systems together. The ensuing proliferation of autonomous cars will mean safer driving conditions for everyone and more efficient vehicle operation. So, what’s the hold-up?

More often than not, the answer to that question is bureaucracy. The pace at which autonomous cars are progressing is far faster than it’s taking regulators to draft the laws that will govern them. The same could be said for insurance companies who are figuring out how to adjust premiums without hurting their bottom lines.

Presumably, the 2017 E-Class will be pretty good to drive, if you’re ever inclined to do so. In addition to its ability to chauffeur you around, it will be slightly larger than the current model, which is great news if you’re only interested in playing Monument Valley on your way to work. Drivetrain options will include a plug-in hybrid, electric-turbocharged diesel, gasoline straight sixes and the 4.0-liter V8 from the GT and C63. for the AMG variant.

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Spyshots
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Read our full review here.

Source: Autocar

James Wolfcale
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