Autonomous cars, essentially vehicles able to drive themselves with minimal or in some cases zero driver involvement, are nothing new
. In fact, here at Motor Authority we’ve already seen a number of them driving down highways, around race tracks, and perhaps even at a neighborhood near you
However, their application in the world of production cars is yet to be seen, though that all looks set to change with the introduction of the brand new 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class due next year.
The new S-Class is expected to debut an autonomous driving feature that will allow a driver to let go of the controls during heavy traffic. Relying on a series of camera and radar based monitoring systems, the new S-Class should be able to follow a traffic queue at speeds of up to 25 mph, which means it should even be able to navigate curves in the road.
The system “allows the driver to concentrate on other things” in traffic, Mercedes engineer Dr. Stefan Schweher revealed to Auto Express
But this is just one of a myriad of new features that will ensure the S-Class remains one of the safest and most advanced vehicles on the planet. One interesting feature in particular is said to be a new airbag system that deploys under the front axle to help further slow the car during emergency braking situations.
As part of its radical new interior design
, the popular luxury sedan will also feature a raft of new telematics technologies including a new-generation COMAND interface with Facebook and Google compatibility.
Also, expect to see four boydstyles in total
, including the regular sedan (both in short and long-wheelbase trims), as well as an extra long Pullman model, new S-Class Coupe to replace the current CL, as well as a brand new S-Class Convertible designed to take on the Bentley Continental GTC.
In terms of powertrain options, Mercedes is likely to stick with the current S550 and S600 designations, but with new engines designed to be much more fuel efficient. A new nine-speed automatic may also debut with the 2013 S-Class. The S63 AMG model
, meanwhile, should adopt the Affalterbach tuner’s latest twin-turbocharged 5.5-liter V-8.
Interestingly, there’s word that the S400 Hybrid may switch to a diesel-electric setup rather than the current gasoline-electric one, however, we’ll have to wait until closer to the car’s debut to confirm the claims.
Look out for the debut of the new S-Class, at least in sedan trim, sometime next year, possibly at March’s 2012 Geneva Motor Show.
For more details on the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class, click here
, and to view a spy video of a prototype, click here