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Daimler vs Tesla and AI research - which company has more capability?

Discussion in 'Model S' started by calisnow, Jan 22, 2016.

  1. calisnow

    calisnow Banned

    Oct 11, 2014
    Los Angeles
    #1 calisnow, Jan 22, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 22, 2016
    EDIT: moderator I accidentally posted this in the interface forum when I meant to put it in the main forum. Please delete the other thread.

    Mercedes and Tesla seem to be currently the two titans battling out for autonomous supremacy in the marketplace - and I think it's a reasonable guess that Benz's pride might have been a bit wounded by the reports that Tesla's software seems to be more capable than theirs in real world use, despite using fewer sensors.

    But Benz seems to have come out swinging hard with the 2017 W213 generation E-class going on sale 90 days from now in Europe. It is really impressive in terms of its active safety and autonomous capabilities - a huge leap from the prior generation (see the Feb issue of Car and Driver in which journalists found Mercedes' S-class autopilot [not the new one on the 2017 E-class] to have error rates over twice Tesla's [and that wasn't even with 7.1 software - only 7.0].

    In fairness to Mercedes, the autopilot version tested by Car and Driver debuted in production vehicles two years before Tesla's Autopilot went live - it showed up originally in the 2013 S-class.

    So I got to wondering - how deep is Mercedes' AI research team vs Tesla's - both in people power and in budget? We do know Mercedes is not using Mobileye - I don't know if they have actually developed custom software and chips from the ground up in-house - but they have been research self driving for years and years.

    And secondly, how much, if at all, does an institutional research history matter going forward in today's environment?

    The 2017 E-class - beginning delivery in April in Europe and this summer in the U.S. is leap-frogging Tesla's current sensor suite and software in a few key ways:


    • Four cameras - front, rear, sides

    Automatic emergency braking:

    • Benz: will completely avoid collisions with speed differential up to 43 mph between vehicle and object - including completely stationary objects.
    • Tesla: current software supposedly limited to collision avoidance at a maximum differential of 25 mph between the car and the object.

    Cross traffic alert in intersections:

    • Mercedes - yes

    • Tesla - not yet, and likely not possible with current hardware suite due to no side facing cameras

    Evasive steering assist

    • Mercedes - detects if driver initiates evasive steering maneuver to avoid hitting pedestrian or other object, and assists with steering to ensure the object/pedestrian is indeed missed, and also that the driver does not lose control of the vehicle.

    • Tesla - no mention of this capability being in development - not sure if current hardware is capable of supporting this function down the road. It would seem to be possible, but again this would require more human development resources that we don't know if Tesla has to spare.

    Auto pilot / steering pilot

    • Mercedes - much improved over prior Benz system - will track vehicles ahead up to 130 mph and as for steering, Benz claims it can keep driving even with non-existant lane markers using surrounding vehicles and "parallel structures" for guidance. I think I saw it mentioned somewhere that the system even recognizes buildings on the side of roads and takes them into account when constructing its image of the roadway. However it still nags much more frequently - every 60 seconds requiring a touch to the steering wheel.
    • Tesla - current hardware still improving via continued software updates and fleet learning

    Automatic lane change

    Mercedes: waits 2 seconds to see if lane is clear before initiating the lane change - works like Tesla's system with the turn signal stalk. No word on if it is checking for traffic behind you but it would seem logical that it does, given that it has a rear camera.

    Tesla: Can't check behind you because of no rear camera. Theoretically could if it could use the back-up camera for some rear checks.

    Car to Car communications about road hazards

    Mercedes is launching their "Car to X" system in which cars can communicate to each other about hazards and conditions ahead - open currently only to other Mercedes' on the roads but the architecture is supposedly open to having other brands join in. Not sure if this is even necessary in a world of Waze but I don't think Teslas are physically capable of this - yet.

    Physical safety advancements

    • Mercedes' side airbags will inflate before a crash, forcing your body away from the doors and in toward the center of the cabin prior to impact.
    • Mercedes will emit high pitch noise prior to impact, forcing your ears to close down and reduce likelihood of hearing damage due to crash.

    The last two items have nothing to due with AI but I was on a roll so I thought I'd mention them.
  2. CHG-ON

    CHG-ON Still in love after all these miles

    Jun 24, 2014
    Santa Cruz Mountains, USA
    This shows just how exciting this field is. We will see many improvements over the next few years as these companies battle for supremacy. Particularly with regard to higher end cars, it will be a completely different landscape in 10 years.
  3. jcaspar

    jcaspar Member

    Aug 19, 2013
    Mercedes current offerings are light years behind Tesla. I am sure they are working hard to try and catch up. When ever I get in one they seem positively ancient.
  4. Max*

    Max* Charging

    Apr 8, 2015
    I wouldn't call this AI, the rest is interesting.
  5. BertL

    BertL Active Member

    Aug 19, 2015
    Carlsbad, CA
    Agree this is an interesting area, and refinements and new capabilities are increasing at an exponential pace. I am one of the few customers in the past that special-ordered (and paid a bunch of money) for all these sort of capabilities in my former BMW, Lexus and MBZ -- and of course AutoPilot now on my MS. Simply looking at what was available on those vehicles is sorta interesting:

    2009 BMW 335i
    - Rear only Park Distance Control -- 4 rear parking sensors; they didn't offer fronts back then and IIRC it was a beep-beep audible sorta system
    - Active Cruise Control -- radar-based, pretty basic compared to what we know today, but would slow/follow at highway speeds

    2013 Lexus RX450h
    - Intuitive Park Assist -- front/back parking sensors with audible/visual distance indicators
    - Pre-Collision System (PCS) with Dynamic Radar Cruise Control -- radar cruise control, w/ ability to slow car down to 25mph (but not stop)
    - Blind Spot Monitor -- over 25mph, icon showed in side mirrors

    2014 MBZ SLK250
    - Parktronic with Advanced Parking Guidance -- front/back parking sensors & assistance with parallel parking (I never did get it to work for me)
    - Attention Assist -- monitored driving behavior and provided visual/audible alarm if you seemed to be dozing off or need a break
    - Distronic Plus with Pre-Safe Brake -- radar cruise control w/ ability to fully stop car in emergency (and that worked one time for me)
    - Blind Spot Assist -- icons in side mirrors
    - Lane Keeping Assist -- "jiggle" of steering wheel if you drift over the line

    (2015) Tesla MS
    - Parking Sensors -- std
    - AutoPilot -- well all know what that has

    As the OP indicated, of course, capabilities have increased substantially in each brand over time. It's a different game today.

    At least in my past experience owning them, MBZ has been the leader and IMHO what they delivered was well refined for what it was at that time; Lexus tended to follow by a few years but provided even better integration of the driving/safety systems into what I'd call the driver's experience; I owned BMW too long ago, so won't comment. MBZ introduced new tweaks in HW & SW in almost every MY -- moving functions through their model line fairly rapidly; whereas Lexus introduced changes and new capabilities mostly at major model refreshes every 3-4 years; Tesla of course has OTA update possibilities if underlying hardware is there to utilize -- the good and bad being that as tweaks are introduced they are not always as complete as owners may desire...

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