AUTONOMOUS VEHICLES: Mercedes-Benz moving testing grounds to Calif. naval base

Auto manufacturer will use 2,100-acre site to test vehicles, new infrastructure

October 02, 2014

Mercedes-Benz now has a place to test its autonomous vehicles and related infrastructure after reaching a deal allowing them to operate on the Concord (Calif.) Naval Weapons Station beginning in October.

The 2,100-acre site—which had been closed down until recently—is currently owned by the U.S. Navy, who has agreed to let the auto manufacturer use the site’s vehicle testing facility and nearly 20 miles of paved roadway for testing purposes. Company researchers said they would put the cars through a variety of tests, including specific hazardous situations.

In addition to vehicles themselves, Mercedes-Benz will evaluate other related technology, including smart traffic signals that will communicate directly with the vehicles.

The agreement won’t just benefit Mercedes-Benz, who has already been conducting open-road testing of its autonomous vehicles; the city of Concord and Contra Costa Transportation Authority, who were also part of the agreement, hope the move will bring more high-tech companies to Contra Costa County.