Are we nearly there yet?
No, but we’re getting close to self-driving being a reality
AT FOUR AND FIVE years old my kids are probably the irst generation for whom a semi-autonomous car is entirely normal.
In our time with the EClass All Terrain we’ve done some long road trips in it together. The weight-sensing automatic front airbag deactivation means that one of them can ride up front with me and marvel more clearly at the Level 2 autonomous DrivePilot system doing its thing: turning the wheel to stay in lane, executing lane changes unaided, locking onto and following the vehicle in front, and braking to a standstill if required.
Don’t tell Mercedes, but the kids also drive it (well, steer it while sitting on my lap) on the farm tracks around us, which the All Terrain covers comfortably at 25mph with the ride height raised in o-road mode. The self-steering thing has become so normal to them that when I let Tom ‘drive’ my Peugeot 205 GTi over the same tracks recently he turned to me and explained, incredulously, that the funny little white car couldn’t drive itself. A recent survey found that three-quarters of us still wouldn’t ride in an autonomous car, and two-thirds don’t want to share the roads with one. Tom will have his licence in 12 years. Such resistance won’t last long.