The piece of equipment on the roof of Mercedes Benz S-Class test mule is a LIDAR device. Stands for Light Detection And Ranging, think of it as a radar working on light rays instead of radio waves. LIDAR is a remote sensing technology which illuminates its surroundings with short pulses of laser light (invisible to naked eye) and measures distances from self to each obstacle. Thereby it maps the vehicle’s surroundings, based on which the autonomous technology will navigate the car.At the rate popularity is growing for self-driving cars, it will not be long before automakers start launching competing autonomous cars. While Mercedes-Benz F 015 concept, unveiled at 2015 CES at Las Vegas, shows what self-driving cars will be like in the future, Audi has already announced that next generation A8 sedan will be offered with such a feature. It will not have a complete mind of its own, it will be a semi-autonomous setup controlling the car up to speed of 60 kmph. The flagship four rings sedan will be launched by end of 2016, and it can also come with autonomous parking facility.
Mutual rival BMW 7-Series could also boast a self-driving chip in its next-generation model, as the Bavarian company has showcased self-parking and collision avoidance systems on i3.