Mercedes Intelligent World Drive in USA

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The automated test drives in the greater Los Angeles area, and subsequently to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, concentrated on the assessment of driving behaviour in dense city traffic and on highways. The focus was particularly on the recognition of school buses, lane markings, and speed limit signs. In addition the innovative DIGITAL LIGHT system was tested.

School buses are unique road users in the USA. As soon as they stop and switch on their warning lights, all vehicles in the immediate vicinity must also stop. No vehicle is allowed to pass – even in the opposite direction. Vehicles equipped with automated and autonomous driving technology must be able to distinguish school buses from all other vehicles, and recognise when they are stopping to let children get in and out.

An equally demanding task for camera and radar systems is identifying separate carpool lanes, which are reserved exclusively for vehicles in which at least two people are sharing a ride. These so-called HOV lanes (high-occupancy vehicle lanes) can be found on multi-lane interstates and freeways in urban areas. For the sensors and algorithms of automated and autonomous driving technology, it is difficult to recognise these as special lanes and distinguish them from normal or exit lanes. Moreover, the lanes are not always in the same position, and can be on the left, right or centre of the highway. HOV lanes can also be separated from the other lanes by two uninterrupted yellow lines, or by metal guard rails, or they may be identified by painted diamonds. In the future, autonomous driving will also require that the system knows the number of occupants in the vehicle to ascertain whether they are permitted to use the carpool lane. This is because in metropolitan areas, there are also HOV lanes that are only permitted for carpools of three or more (e.g. Los Angeles) or even four or more persons (e.g. New York).

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