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Road traffic in #southafrica presents some very special challenges: different road surfaces, wildlife on rural roads and many pedestrians in the city as well as in the interurban traffic who often cross lanes completely unexpectedly. Automated and autonomous vehicles have to be aware of these peculiarities and respond in a reliable manner. In the fourth leg of the #MercedesBenz #intelligentworlddrive, the test vehicle - based on the current S-Class series-production saloon - is facing up to South Africa's idiosyncrasies with automated test drives on the roads of the Western Cape and in the city of Cape Town. #MercedesBenz started the #intelligentworlddrive at the Frankfurt International Motor Show (IAA) in September to adapt more highly automated driving functions to national traffic and user practices. The aim is to gather global insights into real-life traffic conditions for the advancement of the technologies. As part of this, up until January 2018 the test vehicle is collecting comprehensive information in a variety of complex traffic situations on five continents and in doing so is sounding out the limitations of the current systems.
The focus of the test drives on the Western Cape is on pedestrian detection in many unfamiliar situations in particular, both in dense city traffic as well as on rural roads. Furthermore, the test vehicle based on the S‑Class is collecting information for detecting road signs specific to the country, validating the digital map material of HERE MAPS and testing out a prototype of the innovative light system DIGITAL LIGHT.
Many crossing pedestrians in unusual traffic situations
Whether in the city or out in the country – in #southafrica, there are many pedestrians on the road. Sometimes they walk on the street and often, they cross lanes completely unexpectedly. In the extremely dense urban traffic in Cape Town, driving is truly a precision task – particularly in narrow streets, where the pavements are mostly overflowing with parked cars on both sides. But even on national roads outside of towns, and on the motorway too, drivers always have to expect to encounter crossing pedestrians. Just as high in number are the accidents which occur. In 2016 some 5,410 pedestrians died in road traffic accidents. That figure represents 38 percent of all road traffic deaths. This pedestrian behaviour calls for an additional, increased level of awareness and thus, also poses particular challenges for the sensor systems of automated and autonomous vehicles. Cameras and radar systems have to detect passers-by and interpret their movement correctly so that the vehicle can react within milliseconds in the event of an emergency.
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