The Mercedes-Benz high-performance division, AMG, has been innovating the sport/race industry in the automotive world since its beginnings. Creating the most hardcore versions of, almost all, Mercedes models, setting the best lap times around famous German racetracks – Nurburgring Nordschleife and others, and pushing the boundaries of how fast the road-legal cars can go. They have enabled us with a lot of amazing technologies, that all of the other manufacturers use for their sports cars as well.
And this time, it’s no different. Mercedes-Benz is on a crusade to fight the self-driving cars with Tesla and others, with a lot of success. Their newest electric model called EQS has been approved to drive completely on itself on certain roads at speeds below 60 km/h. A major breakthrough for the autonomous technology and car industry, and a great way for them to collect valuable data. So there is that.
However, the AMG division wanted to get their hands on it and develop something on self-driving technology. As their main goal is to maximize race track performance, they decided to develop a car that will be able to do stuff out of a video game. Imagine, how many hours you have spent racing against AI in games like Forza or Gran Turismo. This could be the same situation. The car can accelerate, brake and steer itself following the most optimal line through the course without the help or interaction from any of the car’s occupants. In the video released by the AMG youtube channel, there is a racing driver present in the driver’s seat, however, they say that the car can be completely empty and still do that.
It uses a lot of GPS trackers to have the car’s exact position at all times in real-time, processes it through a powerful computer located in the trunk of the car which then decides on the output and performs, as said before – steering, braking, accelerating by itself. The car is limited to “only” 170 km/h, as the engineers say they do not want to go fast on the straights (as it is pretty easy) but teach the car the fastest way around the corners.
Obviously, it’s all in a controlled environment thought on a very specific track for a long time and is meant to create more buzz around the Mercedes’ self-driving tech. I see two sides to this story. One, it’s created to help drivers learn the best possible line through the track. In this sense, it’s going to be very useful, if there are no other cars on the track which could be endangered by it. The second one is that it’s totally useless, as we will not race as in video games, against AI drivers for fun. Also, it’s, hopefully, not going to be used for races only with autonomous cars, as it’s going to be boring and the ethical part could easily be questioned.
FYI, Croatian startup-car-manufacturer Rimac Automobili also will try to do something very similar with their newest electric car called the Nevera.
I am really looking forward to your opinions on this topic. Do you also feel it’s boring or do you think it’s cool? Let me know in the comment section down below.