‘Bertha’ to re­tire to Merc mu­seum

The Witness - Wheels - - TRENDS -

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.

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