‘Bertha’ to retire to Merc museum
AFTER Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz, showed the world robot cars are technically possible when “Bertha” drove itself on the historic route of the first car drive, Merc will now retire the car to a museum foyer.
Bertha, as the S 500 Intelligent drive research vehicle was known inside the company, autonomously drove from Mannheim to Pforzheim in autumn 2013, proving that self-driving cars are no longer something out of science fiction.
By completing the world’s first autonomous journey in everyday overland and city traffic, Bertha succeeded — like her namesake 125 years previously — in making a pioneering achievement.
That Bertha gets its rightful place of honour in the MercedesBenz museum shows how fast self-drive technology is advancing. From July 26 until September 25, she will be on show in the entrance hall.
Equipped with close-to-production technology and abundant computing power, she was on the road in 2013 to provide the development engineers at Mercedes-Benz with valuable findings based on the new E-Class, where a new milestone has been achieved. But a lot still needs to be improved before Bertha can be trusted on her own. As Merc put it: “The interconnection of the sensors requires further optimisation”, mostly because they don’t work when water or snow foul the sensors.
And several sets of lights at a junction just befuddled Bertha. But these technical limits are now being pushed back with the help of deep learning methods. So-called deep learning computers interpret images not pixel by pixel, but in their entirety. The on-board computer need no longer be trained in every detail. It can identify key characteristics and similarities in images, and is capable of interpreting typical street scene structures of one city and applying them to those of another city. And cars share their deeply learnt knowledge on the Internet of things.
Daimler and Bosch are meanwhile testing Car2go, which may or may not be useful in a world of car sharing. As the system developed by Audi, Car2go is automated parking in a multistorey car park, which enables a driver to get out of the car and send it off to go find parking. As soon as the driver is ready to be picked up, the car returns automatically.