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Mercedes Turns its New E-Class Into a Self-Driving Test Car

January 7, 2016, 3:15 PM UTC
Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse: Autonom über die Highways im Bundesstaat NevadaMercedes-Benz E-Class: Self-driving across the highways of Nevada
Die neue Mercedes-Benz E-Klasse hat als erstes Serienfahrzeug weltweit die Testlizenz für autonomes Fahren im US-Bundesstaat Nevada erhalten. Brian Sandoval, Gouverneur von Nevada und Prof. Thomas Weber, Vorstandsmitglied der Daimler AG, verantwortlich für Konzernforschung und Mercedes-Benz Cars Entwicklung (zweiter von links). The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the world's first standard-production vehicle to be awarded a test licence for autonomous driving in the US state of Nevada. Brian Sandoval, Gouverneur of Nevada and Prof. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, Group Research & Mercedes-Benz Cars Development (second from left).
Courtesy of Daimler AG

The self-driving cars being tested by Google and automakers like Ford and Nissan are easy to spot. Just look for a car—or in Google’s case a gumdrop on wheels with a large can placed on its roof—loaded with special equipment and additional sensors.

In Nevada, some of the autonomous vehicles being tested on public roads might be tough to spot. Regulators have given Mercedes-Benz a license to test the new E-Class standard-production cars in autonomous mode, announced the company’s parent company Daimler (DDAIF) AG at CES, an annual consumer electronics industry trade show in Las Vegas.

WATCH: For more on self-driving cars, check out the following Fortune video:

In order to make the E-Class autonomous the company needed to make a few small software modifications, according to Prof. Thomas Weber, a board member of Daimler’s group research and Mercedes-Benz development division.

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There are some limitations for autonomous testing done in Nevada. Self-driving tests are permitted on all interstates and state highways in Nevada. However, human drivers are required for turning, merging, and departing, according to Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles rules.

Test vehicles in Nevada are also identified by a red license plate reserved for autonomous driving. Meanwhile, Daimler is already testing its autonomous driving technology in Nevada, and in May 2015 the company was issued a license to test self-driving semi-trucks on public roads.

The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-class will be unveiled at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit next week.