AI is helping to bring the reality of self-driving robot cars closer to the road

While self-driving cars are still very much in the ‘learner’ phase, artificial intelligence is rapidly helping them find a route to the roads.

German truck manufacturer Mercedes-Benz is among the first companies looking to deploy self-driving technology in commercial applications.

The company is testing and developing autopilot systems for its heavy trucks. Although these are some years from hitting the roads in earnest, the intention is to give long-haul truckers a concentration break on the highway, rather than taking over completely. Onboard systems will monitor speed and distance from other vehicles, while also keeping the steering on the straight and narrow.

Consumer versions of the technology are seen in the company’s ‘intelligent drive’ systems, which is gradually packaging together a growing number of driver assists allowing current production cars to manage more aspects of city driving, such as the ever-tricky parallel park.

Google meanwhile is applying its self-drive technology to existing vehicles, as well as developing new prototypes intended to be self-driving from the ground up. The company’s test fleet has already put more than a million miles under its wheels in locations around the US. While the technologies that make self-driving cars possible are gradually being brought together, it may still be a while before we can just take our hands off the wheel.