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.
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.