It is quite customary for an executive to drive the first vehicle of a new or updated model off the assembly line, but it has been done a bit differently with the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Well, they did call over an executive, Markus Schäfer who is a member of the Divisional Board that specialises in production and supply chain management, but put him in the passenger seat of the very first S 560 4MATIC facelift. Daimler AG have released a video with Schäfer in the car at the Sindelfingen factory, where the new S-Class drives itself off the assembly line. However, it doesn't stop there, the car then drives around on its own for about 1.5 km to the loading area in the plant. In order to ensure that the car reaches its destination reliably, newly developed and patented technology is used. Cameras, together with radar and ultrasonic sensors work in conjunction with powerful software to accelerate and brake the S-Class independently and ensure that it stays reliably on track.
The Sindelfingen plant is currently exploring the possible use of the new autonomous system for series production. The finished vehicles are currently driven from the assembly halls to the loading car parks by members of staff. A shuttle service then brings the employees back to their starting point. The pilot test provides an opportunity to gather practical experience for the future of “autonomous driving” on public roads, which can be used in for further development.
“The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class sets worldwide standards for safety, comfort, connectivity, and is on the road to automated driving. The S-Class's independent journey from the production line to the plant's loading area shows the future of how we will be able to use driver assistance systems in production,” Schäfer said.
“We are taking the next step in the digitalisation of our complete value-added chain. We are systematically applying Industry 4.0 in all areas from development and production through to the customer. Perhaps, in the not too distant future, a Mercedes-Benz will even find its own way from the production line to its new owner.”
The Mercedes S-Class facelift will be launched in Europe later this month, with an upgraded list of features, along with revised styling and new engine options.