New 2018 Mercedes S-Class has self-drive tech 'considerably better than any other'

Alistair Charlton
2018 Mercedes S-Class

The new 2018 S-Class luxury saloon car has what Mercedes claims to be the most advanced self-driving features ever fitted to a road car.

Revealed at the Shanghai motor show on 7 April and due to arrive in dealerships during the autumn of 2017, the new car packs a wide range of new and updated autonomous driving features intended to help the driver in more circumstances than before.

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Dr Michael Hafner, head of the automated driving and active safety division at Mercedes, said: "We are approaching the goal of automated driving more purposefully and faster than many people suspect. From the autumn, the new S-Class will be able to support its driver considerably better than all systems which have been available to date."

Enhanced camera and radar systems, and access to the car's satnav maps for the first time, mean the car can now automatically slow down when approaching corners, junctions and toll booths. The speed is then automatically increased once the road becomes straight again. The car will also automatically slow down if driving in the inside lane and approaching a junction requested by the satnav.

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By designing and developing the autonomous driving systems itself, Mercedes claims it is working on self-driving technology "with a rigour unmatched by any other car brand". Hafner added: "We have always programmed the software for the assistance functions in-house. This means that we are able to implement new ideas very quickly."

Although Mercedes continues to insist that these are driver aides not replacements, and that the driver must maintain regular contact with the steering wheel to tell the car they are awake and alert, the new S-Class can do more than ever on its own. Automatic lane changes can be performed by the car (after the driver indicates) at between 50mph and 112mph, traffic signs are read to keep the car within the local speed limit, and the car can drive itself in stop-start traffic providing it is not stationary for more than 30 seconds at a time.

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Remote parking makes its S-Class debut, having first launched on the latest E-Class. This lets owners park the car via a smartphone app, letting them slot the car into a tight space without worrying about opening the doors into a neighbouring vehicle.

Evasive Steering Assist also comes to the new S-Class, where the car will apply additional torque to the steering as soon as the driver reacts to avoid a pedestrian in the road. However, the car will not initiate the manoeuvre.

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