Mercedes-Benz extends autonomous vehicle testing in California to Concord Naval Weapons Station

As one of the first automobile manufacturers permitted to do so, Mercedes-Benz has been testing autonomously driven automobiles on public roads in California since September.

In addition, the company will from now on also use California’s Concord Naval Weapons Station (CNWS), the largest test bed site in the US, for further testing of its future technology. The additional testing opportunities provided by the Contra Costa Transportation Authority at the CNWS site will enable the company to expand significantly the scope of its research activities.

The CNWS test site features a network of surfaced roads resembling an urban grid plan, making it an ideal location for testing autonomously driving vehicles in surroundings that are as close to real life as they can be. For security reasons the testing ground, which is operated by the US Navy in conjunction with the City of Concord and the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority, is not accessible to the public. With a test area covering 2,100 acres, the CNWS site is currently the largest and most secure test bed site in the US.

We can use the test site in Concord, California, to run simulation tests with self-driving vehicles in a secure way, including specific hazardous situations. Taken in conjunction with the results of our test drives on public roads, these tests will help us with the ongoing development of our autonomous cars.

The focus of research nevertheless continues to lie on the tests undertaken in a real-life environment, Gern emphasized.

In August 2013 the Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE, a new-model S-Class equipped with near-production-standard technology, drove fully autonomously the 100 km distance between the German cities of Mannheim and Pforzheim, following the historic route taken by Bertha Benz (video above).