Look, no hands

Car makes au­ton­o­mous drive from Dubai to Abu Dhabi

7 Days in Dubai - - FRONT PAGE - By Shoshana Ke­dem @B_shosh

A car man­u­fac­turer has proved how close we are to rid­ing around in au­ton­o­mous ve­hi­cles by driv­ing a sedan from Dubai to Abu Dhabi with­out us­ing the steer­ing wheel, brakes or ac­cel­er­a­tor.

Mercedes-Benz said it had suc­cess­fully com­pleted an au­ton­o­mous jour­ney be­tween the two cities de­spite the chal­lenge of “speed­ing and ag­gres­sive driv­ers”.

The mod­i­fied E-Class trav­elled from Jebel Ali to cen­tral Abu Dhabi on Fri­day. The driver’s only job was to flick the in­di­ca­tor when he wanted the car to change lane.

Mercedes con­ducted the trip in col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Roads and Trans­port Au­thor­ity (RTA), which is it­self cur­rently test­ing out the elec­tric, driver­less EZ10 in Busi­ness Bay. The Dubai Govern­ment wants 25 per cent of jour­neys by driver­less trans­port by 2030.

The an­nounce­ment of the hands­free drive was made at the In­ter­na­tional Con­fer­ence on Fu­ture Mo­bil­ity in Dubai yes­ter­day.

Mark de Haes, CEO and Pres­i­dent at Mercedes-Benz Cars Mid­dle East, said the firm car­ried out the test by mod­i­fy­ing the driver as­sis­tance sys­tem al­ready fit­ted to the car, which in­cludes in­tel­li­gent cruise con­trol and col­li­sion avoid­ance sys­tems. De Haes said: “The traf­fic sit­u­a­tion it­self for this car is not a prob­lem, but while this road is very straight, it’s a very com­plex road. “You have a lot of speed­ing and ag­gres­sive driv­ing, but as long as the car sees the cars next to it, it has no prob­lem to keep in the lane. It’s al­ways con­cen­trat­ing on the lanes, lines on the ground and the car in front and the cars to the side. “There were sit­u­a­tions where it had to move lane from left to right, just by [the driver] mov­ing the in­di­ca­tor the car it­self goes to the left, de­pend­ing on the traf­fic. “Over­all, the only thing the driver needs to do if he wants to over­take is put the in­di­ca­tor on the left, and then the car looks to see if there is some­thing com­ing from be­hind and if the space is free it over­takes, sits back in the lane and con­tin­ues to drive.” He added: “This test drive con­sti­tutes a ma­jor step to­wards our vi­sion of au­ton­o­mous driv­ing. We have been work­ing tire­lessly to achieve this mile­stone.”

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