Daimler AG has announced that it has become the first international automaker to receive a road test license for highly-automated driving research vehicles (Level 4 Autonomy) in Beijing, China. This is claimed to mark a major milestone in the company’s local research and development efforts in China. Urban traffic is a major challenge towards autonomous driving, and Mercedes-Benz test vehicles will now begin real road tests with this approval. China is the third country where Daimler has received this automated driving test license, following Germany and the US.
The company is said to have continuously pushed forward automated driving development in China, working together with its local partners to adapt technologies to the country’s traffic environment. To qualify for the license, Mercedes-Benz vehicles equipped with additional technical applications from Baidu Apollo undertook extensive testing at the National Pilot Zone (Beijing and Hebei) for Intelligent Mobility, the company said. Daimler added that test drivers have been receiving rigorous automated driving training to carry out these tests.
Daimler is said to have actively expanded local R&D in China, in the fields of automated driving and vehicle safety, extending its cooperation with local partners. Together with Baidu, the company is engaging in research on safer solutions in automated driving for China through the open source Apollo autonomous driving platform, it noted. The goal is a deep understanding of the special requirements for automated driving in China, and to develop an early intuition regarding local technical trends.
Additionally, through their joint Research Centre for Sustainable Transportation, Daimler and China’s Tsinghua University have supported research projects related to sustainable transportation in a China-specific road environment, since 2012. Research conducted by the Centre has included gathering data on typical traffic situations with a focus on increasing safety for all road users. The topics of research is on ‘vision- based detection of vulnerable road users’ (VRU), as well as creating digital models of the East Asian human body proportions for simulation of crash tests.
Hubertus Troska, Member - Board of Management, Daimler AG, responsible for Greater China, said autonomous driving is a key pillar of the company’s global C.A.S.E. strategy. This announcement marks a major step forward for Daimler’s innovation efforts in China, he added. Troska further added that the company demonstrates its commitment to furthering the development of China’s automotive industry through continually expanding the scope of its local R&D. The company is said to be following the strategy of ‘Inspired by China, innovating for China,’ with technologies, products and services tailored to customer needs.
Backed by strong local partners, the company’s R&D in China results in concrete innovations that allow it to achieve sustainable development, noted Prof Dr Hans Georg Engel, Head, Mercedes-Benz Research and Development China. He said this expanded research into automated driving will provide a strong base for developing further automated driving technology that addresses the challenges posed by China’s unique traffic environment.
Daimler claims to have been setting standards in vehicle safety throughout its history of technical innovations. In particular, the Intelligent Drive assistance systems are said to have major advancements on the road to autonomous driving.