Mercedes-Benz sent its S 500 Intelligent Drive research vehicle along an historic route in Germany, demonstrating the feasibility of autonomous cars in Europe. The self-driving S-Class travelled 100km along a route once driven by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz 125 years earlier.STUTTGART, Germany – Mercedes-Benz successfully demonstrated the feasibility of autonomous driving in Germany when its S 500 'Intelligent Drive' research vehicle completed a 100km journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim.It followed a route travelled by motoring pioneer Bertha Benz in 1888 when she set off on the world’s first long-distance drive.Video: Autonomous S-Class travels 100kmThe autonomous S-Class navigated its way through traffic lights and roundabouts and avoided pedestrians, cyclists and trams. According to Mercedes-: “It should be noted that this success was not achieved using extremely expensive special technology but with the aid of near-production technology, very similar to that already found in current E and S-Class.”ROUTE PILOT, NO DRIVERThe S 500 was equipped with sensors already in use in the new S-Class. With the aid of its automated "Route Pilot", the vehicle was able to negotiate its own way through dense urban and rural traffic.Dieter Zetsche, chief executive officer of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes-Benz Cars, said: "For us, autonomous vehicles are an important step on the way to accident-free driving. They will bring greater comfort and safety for all road users because autonomous vehicles react eve n when the driver is inattentive or fails to spot something."On top of that, they relieve the driver of tedious or difficult tasks while at the wheel."'AUTOMATED DRIVING POSSIBLE'Daimler management board member and head of Mercedes-Benz cars development Professor Thomas Weber said: "With our successful test drives following in the tracks of Bertha Benz, we have demonstrated that highly automated driving is possible without the luxury of closed roads and relatively straightforward traffic situations "In line with the goal of the project, we have gained important insights into the direction in which we need to further develop our systems to enable autonomous driving not just on motorways but also in other traffic scenarios. We were quite surprised by how we became used to our sensor technology.When can we expect this technology to become mainstream?According to Webber: “With the new S-Class, we are the first to drive autonomously during traffic jams. We also want to be the first to bring other autonomous functions into production vehicles. You can expect we will reach this goal within this decade.”WHAT ABOUT BERTHA...?Bertha Benz set off on her famous first long-distance journey from Mannheim to Pforzheim 125 years earlier. In doing so, the wife of Mercedes-Benz founder Karl Benz demonstrated that the Benz Patent Motorwagen was for everyday use and paved the way for the global success of the automobile. Zetsche said: "This S-Class spells out where we're headed with intelligent drive and what tremendous potential there is in currently available technology. It would have been a lot easier to take the autobahn for the autonomous drive from Mannheim to Pforzheim but there was a special motivation for us to carry out this autonomous drive along this very route 125 years after Bertha Benz."After all, we wouldn't be Mercedes-Benz unless we set ourselves challenging goals and then went on to achieve them."