The S560 did all the work for almost a mile to reach the loading area.
Having made its debut at Auto Shanghai in mid-April, the 2018 S-Class facelift has now entered production at the Sindelfingen factory in Germany. Since the S-Class is no ordinary car, Mercedes decided it’s the perfect opportunity to evaluate the prospects of an industry-first for car production. An S560 finished in Obsidian Black Metallic drove itself off the assembly line for around 1.5 kilometers (almost a mile) to the loading area located within the assembly plant.
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As you can see, it wasn’t an ordinary S-Class as the car was equipped with additional hardware mounted on the roof on the driver’s side. There wasn’t an actual driver per se as the multitude of cameras, sensors, and radars handled the work while Markus Schäfer, member of the board at Mercedes, sat on the passenger seat.
The company with the three-pointed star logo mentions the test car was fitted with newly developed and patented technology, but without actually going into details about the onboard systems the S-Class received. The video allows us to see the fullsize luxury sedan did all the steering, accelerating, and braking in a relatively tight space, managing to exit the assembly line and head to the adjacent loading areas where all customer cars go after production is completed.
It was more than just for show as Mercedes is actually running a pilot program to see whether it can be implemented in the day-or-day production operations. The old fashioned way involves a shuttle service responsible for bringing the employees back to the assembly line to pick up more cars.
Schäfer can already imagine a future in which the car drives itself from the assembly line straight to the owner's house, like a package you get from FedEx. Would that be a good idea or it would take away some of the excitement of seeing your shiny new car at the dealer?
The aforementioned Sindelfingen is a top plant for Mercedes and it employs more than 25,000 people. It’s the place where a multitude of models come to life: E-Class Sedan & Estate, S-Class Sedan & Coupe & Cabriolet, CLS & CLS Shooting Brake, Mercedes-Maybach, and the AMG GT. Approximately 200 cars are being delivered on a daily basis in the customer center. The factory will be upgraded in the years to come to accommodate production of next-gen electric vehicles based on the company’s new modular EV platform.