Autonomous driving systems are all the rage these days but might surprise you to learn that Mercedes first starting developing the technology 30 years ago.

Autonomous driving systems are all the rage these days but might surprise you to learn that Mercedes started developing the technology 30 years ago.

Starting in 1985, Mercedes joined the EUREKA-PROMETHEUS research project which aimed to develop autonomous driving systems to improve safety and fuel efficiency. While the technology of the 1980's is laughable by today's standards, it didn't stop engineers from creating the VITA (Vision Technology Application) prototype which used front and rear cameras to monitor traffic and accelerate, brake and steer accordingly.  

Despite its preliminary nature, Mercedes says a broad range of innovations - such as lane-change assist, parking assist and navigation systems - can all be traced back to the project.

Nearly a decade later, Mercedes outfitted an S-Class with an early supercomputer and a variety of sensors and cameras.  Thanks to the improved technology, the prototype was able to drive Munich to Copenhagen almost entirely autonomously.  This test helped to pave the way for Distronic adaptive cruise control system as well as future advances that are taking us even closer to a fully autonomous future.

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