It was a grand entrance for the Mercedes Benz S500, the vehicle Daimler hopes will lead the car industry's grand experiment in autonomous driving.
Daimler says the car, driving with limited autonomy, performed well on a recent 60-mile test drive through Germany.
The car is designed to operate with and without a driver at the wheel.
Radar and other sensors tell an onboard computer where the car is and what's in its vicinity. Color cameras mounted behind the windscreen can interpret traffic lights while another camera pointed to the rear contributes to a digital positioning system that tells the car where it is, and where it should go to reach its destination.
"A lot of people would like to have such a feature in their vehicle … in certain situations where driving is not really fun - in a traffic jam, on your daily commute to work," Daimler head of Telematic
Research Ralph Herrtwich said. "That's where people would like to have that feature and that's why we intend to build it for them."
But a fully autonomous car is still years away from commercial release. And before travelers can sit back and leave everything to the car, there is the issue of regulation.
And Daimler has rivals - Audi, Volvo, BMW and others are also pursuing driving autonomy, and a market that's increasingly in favor of a hands-off driving experience.
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