Germany lets Mercedes test new autonomous tech on public roads

Mercedes\' newest prototypes run a software named DAVOS.

The German government has just given Mercedes-Benz permission to test its newest autonomous technology on public roads.

Mercedes' most recent prototypes are equipped with a software named Daimler Autonomous Vehicle Operating System (DAVOS) which relies on advanced Lidar sensors to "drive" the car on its own. The cars can theoretically operate by themselves, but the Stuttgart-based company points out two specially-trained drivers will ride in each prototype at all times for safety reasons.

DAVOS also incorporates deep-learning technologies and a graphic processor, two tech features rarely used in the field of autonomous driving, and the prototypes can be summoned using a purpose-built smartphone application. The DAVOS test cars are based on the V-Class, a mid-size passenger van sold in Europe that's closely related to the Metris.

Deploying prototypes in real-world conditions will help engineers fine-tune the DAVOS software. Mercedes openly admits it will launch a production self-driving car as soon as the technology is ready for public use and the necessary regulations are put in place around the globe.

Mercedes has been working on making self-driving cars a reality for decades. The company began dabbling with the technology in 1986, when it teamed up with European authorities to launch a project named Program for a European Traffic of Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety (PROMETHEUS).

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