New Luxury Mercedes-Benz S550 Drives Itself


Yahoo News

The Mercedes-Benz S550, new flag­ship sedan, when loaded with the Pre­mium 1 Pack­age and the Dri­ver Assis­tance Pack­age, is being described as “omnipo­tent” if there is such a thing in automobiles.

Find out if the dri­ver is even needed in this elec­tronic won­der machine!

This is not hyper­bole, but an indu­bitable fact. Buy the new flag­ship sedan for an as-yet undis­closed price (we can’t imag­ine it return­ing many Saca­gawea coins from a $100,000 bearer bond), tick the order boxes for the $4,500 Pre­mium 1 Pack­age and the $2,800 Dri­ver Assis­tance Pack­age, twist the key in the starter and slide the mem­ory stick-sized col­umn shifter into D, and sit back and relax. The car’s suite of stereo­scopic cam­eras, radar sen­sors and ultra­sonic gew­gaws cre­ate what Mer­cedes — in a Snowden-level defec­tion from Earth-bound physics — calls “6-D Vision.” This double-down dimen­sion­al­ity appar­ently endows the vehicle’s robot brain with an omnipo­tence once ascribed solely to God.

Bow deep, lux­ury shop­per. The auto­mo­tive world has a new deity.

There are about 16,000 actions, pre­vi­ously left to the hands and feet and eyes of the dri­ver, which the S550 can now per­form with com­plete auton­omy. These include start­ing, stop­ping, steer­ing, brak­ing, remain­ing in a lane, avoid­ing a head-on col­li­sion, avoid­ing a cross-traffic col­li­sion, fend­ing off a rear-end col­li­sion, spot­ting street signs, read­ing street signs, spot­ting wildlife, par­al­lel park­ing, right-angle park­ing, main­tain­ing a safe fol­low­ing speed, spot­ting pedes­tri­ans, avoid­ing killing pedes­tri­ans and flash­ing the high beams at pedes­tri­ans spot­ted on the side of the road­way at night.

If one gets uppity, and decides to dis­able all of these sys­tems — which can be eas­ily accom­plished, and, as far as we can tell, invites no sig­nif­i­cant retal­i­a­tion from the onboard HAL 9000 — the S550 rewards with pre­cisely the kind of dri­ving expe­ri­ence one expects from an S-Class.