Rival automakers are racing to catch up with Mercedes-Benz's lead in autonomous driving.
Mercedes raised the bar for the rest of the industry when it debuted its new Intelligent Drive package of safety and driving-assistance systems on the latest-generation S class.
The luxury competition has a number of advanced self-driving features, but they aren't as integrated as those offered by Mercedes-Benz.
Here's a sampling.
- Audi has advanced cruise control with a stop- and-go function. It regulates vehicle speed and distance to the vehicle ahead at speeds up to 155 mph.
In stop-and-go traffic, the system can bring the vehicle to a complete stop. After stopping briefly, at a traffic light, for instance, the car automatically will begin to follow the vehicle ahead.
The traffic-assist function steers the car back into the lane and determines whether there is a risk of skidding. It corrects steering by increasing or reducing the power steering boost.
Audi also has side assist that monitors vehicles approaching rapidly from behind or in the blind spot. Audi also offers night vision and parking assist. The camera system has a 360-degree view of the vehicle and its surroundings.
The driver assistant package costs $2,800 on the mid-sized A6 sedan and A7 coupe.
Audi says that in about five years, it will offer "piloted driving," systems that take over driving in certain conditions, such as traffic moving at speeds up to 37 mph.
The systems do the steering, accelerating and braking. They also would park, with the driver outside the car using a remote key fob or smartphone. Once the car is parked, it turns off, and the doors are locked. The reverse can be done to get the vehicle out of a parked space or garage.
The technology uses a laser scanner, radar and front-facing cameras.
- Infiniti's cruise control system works with lasers looking two vehicles ahead. The distance-control assist also works in heavy traffic, gauges the speed of the car and brings it to a stop.
Lane-departure warning and lane-departure protection use a camera. If the car veers out of the lane, the system beeps; if that is ignored, the system brakes and brings the car back into the lane. The action is described as feeling like a "light gush of wind."
Infiniti says it pioneered blind-spot intervention. That uses sensors and can bring the car out of danger.
Collision intervention uses sensors to avoid accidents. For instance, if a driver is backing out of parking spot and there's impending danger, the system will beep and then stop the car.
Predictive forward-collision warning can tell whether the vehicle two cars ahead is starting to slow but the car directly ahead isn't. It gives a warning and then will slow the vehicle.
The systems are separate, but an Infiniti spokesman says they work together. The average price of the technology package is $2,800 to $3,200, a spokesman said.
Carlos Ghosn, CEO of parent company Nissan Motor Corp., said the company will launch two new technologies but did not specify on which brands. A traffic-jam pilot and an automatic parking system will be available by the end of 2016. An automatic lane-changing feature comes in 2018.
By the end of the decade, a smart-assist feature would allow Nissan's cars to negotiate city intersections without driver intervention.
- The 2014 Jaguar XF coupe and convertible have an optional package with entertainment features that includes front parking and rear camera parking assistance for $4,250. Adaptive cruise control with intelligent emergency braking and active seat belts is $2,300 more. The 2015 models have optional blind-spot monitoring and reverse traffic detection for $2,400.
The XJ and XK have only adaptive cruise control for $2,300.
- The Lexus LS 460 and LS 600h L have an advanced pre-collision package for $6,500 with an attention monitor, lane-keeping assist and an advanced pre-collision feature with all-speed cruise control. The blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert are $500. They're available on certain LS models.
The previous LS model had self-parking, but the feature was dropped because "there was no take rate," said Bill Camp, Lexus dealer education administrator.
The blind-spot monitor and rear cross-traffic alert work together but are separate from the other systems, he said. All-speed cruise control paces the vehicle in front and will slow to whatever speed the car in front slows to. It can crawl at low speeds, stop when the vehicle in front stops and restart and continue to follow the lead car when it moves again.
Lane-keeping assist recognizes the lines on the freeway and gives steering input to keep the vehicle in the lane. If the car deviates or is about to cross the line, the assist gives an audible tone and will steer the vehicle back to the center of the lane.
The pre-collision feature can detect a pedestrian. Under 24 mph, it can mitigate or avoid the collision by applying the brakes and stopping the vehicle before impact.