Bertha Benz Drive
|Bertha Benz Drive|
|Autonomous driving in the tracks of Bertha Benz Transport|
|From 2013 to 2013||Completed|
In August 2013, a S500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research autonomous vehicle, developed on the basis of the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class, covered a journey of approximately 100 kilometers between Mannheim and Pforzheimon, demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous driving on both interurban and urban routes.
This was on the path of Bertha Benz, the wife of Carl Benz. In August 1888, she set off the first long-distance automobile journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim, demonstrating the suitability of the Benz Patent Motor Car for everyday use and thus paved the way for the worldwide success of the automobile.
The first goal was facing the challenges of the historic Bertha Benz Route, and the second goal was to realize autonomous driving based on close-to-market sensors. The robot relies solely on the sensor setup of a standard 2013 S-Class vehicle and additional radar and vision sensors for object detection and free-space analysis, traffic light detection and self-localization.
The experiment wanted to show that autonomous driving is feasible not only in highways but also in complex urban areas, such as the Bertha Benz memorial route. The key features that enabled the result are radar and stereo vision sensing for object detection and free space analysis, monocular vision for traffic light detection and object classification, digital maps, versatile trajectory planning and reliable vehicle control.
Although the autonomous vehicle successfully completed the 103km of the historic route, the overall behaviour was inferior to the performance level of a human. A further improvement to the robot’s ability to interpret a traffic scenario or analysis the behaviour of other traffic participants is imperative to achieve comparable behaviour to humans. As a conclusion this can be achieved if the efforts are concentrated in improving the sensor setup regarding robustness, availability and redundancy.