Driver assistance systems: The Next Step

Driver assistance systems: the next step: The new S-Class: the next level of Intelligent Drive

Driver assistance systems: Key Facts

Driver assistance systems: the next step: Automated driving functions and exemplary safety

Interview with Dr. Michael Hafner: “Autonomous driving is becoming more and more tangible”

Quick facts: Did you know that…

Test facilities and tools: Non-stop focus on critical driving maneuvers

Milestones: On the way to autonomous driving

Glossary: Terms and innovations from A to Z

*The descriptions and information in this press kit apply to the international model range of Mercedes-Benz. They may vary from country to country.

Driver assistance systems: the next step: The new S-Class: the next level of Intelligent Drive

With new and considerably extended driver assistance functions, the new S-Class will be taking another major step towards the future of autonomous driving. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now support the driver even more conveniently in keeping a safe distance and steering, and vehicle speed can now also be automatically adjusted in bends and at road junctions. Also included are Active Emergency Stop Assist and a considerably improved Active Lane Change Assist.

“The new S-Class raises Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive to the next level,” says Dr. Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving and Active Safety at Mercedes-Benz. “We are approaching the goal of automated driving more purposefully and faster than many people suspect. The new S-Class will be able to support its driver considerably better than all systems that have been available to date.”

The new S-Class has an even better view of the traffic situation: improved camera and radar systems will allow it to look further up ahead than before. It also uses a substantially broader scope of map and navigation data. These functions include:

  • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC, which is able to assist the driver in many situations, even on a route-specific basis and comfortably adjust the vehicle speed
  • Active Speed Limit Assist, which automatically adapts the vehicle’s speed to identified speed limits in conjunction with COMAND® Navigation
  • Active Steering Assist has been noticeably improved across its entire performance spectrum, resulting in markedly enhanced customer benefits
  • Active Lane Change Assist assists the driver in a convenient and cooperative manner when making lane changes
  • Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle to a standstill in its lane if it detects that the driver is no longer actively driving the vehicle while it is on the move with Active Steering Assist engaged
  • Active Parking Assist The driver is also able to see at a glance which assistance functions have been selected, and which situations the systems are reacting to at the given moment. Icons – for example, a steering wheel with hands on both sides – give information both on the screen and in the Head Up Display. All functions can now be controlled from the new steering wheel.

Mercedes-Benz will introduce the next generation of driver assistance systems with the facelifted S-Class. The scope of automated driving functions has been expanded in line with practical needs and now provides enhanced, tangible customer benefits on virtually all types of roads.

As a pioneer of automotive safety, Mercedes-Benz pursues research in this field with a rigor unmatched by any other automotive brand. Director of Driver Assistance Systems and Active Safety Dr. Michael Hafner: “We have always programmed the software for the assistance functions in-house. This means that we are able to implement new ideas very quickly.”

Driver assistance systems: Key facts

  • With new and considerably extended driver assistance functions, the facelifted S-Class will take another major steps on the road to autonomous driving with the following safety and driver assistance functions:
    • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC uses substantially more map and navigation data and can support the driver on a route-specific basis in numerous situations while conveniently adjusting the vehicle speed.
    • Active Steering Assist on the new S-Class has been noticeably improved across its entire performance spectrum, resulting in markedly enhanced customer benefits.
    • With Active Lane Change Assist, it is now sufficient to nudge the indicator stalk in order to initiate a lane change. Lane changing then takes place within the next few seconds, with a corresponding indication in the instrument cluster, provided that the sensors do not detect any vehicles in the relevant safety zone.
    • Active Emergency Stop Assist is able to brake the vehicle in a controlled manner, even to a standstill, when driving with Active Steering Assist engaged. This is done if the system recognizes that the driver is permanently unable to take control of the vehicle. At lower vehicle speeds the system activates the hazard warning lights and can now unlock the doors when the vehicle is stationary to allow first aid responders immediate access to the vehicle’s interior. With the available mbrace® Secure, the system simultaneously makes an emergency call via eCall.
  • Improved camera and radar systems allow the S-Class to look further up ahead than before.
  • Revised, intuitive icons in both the instrument cluster and Head Up Display make the use of the driver assistance systems easier. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is operated via buttons on the new steering wheel.

Driver assistance systems: the next step: Automated driving functions and exemplary safety

The S-Class is all set to take another major step towards the future of autonomous driving, raising Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive to the next level in the process. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now support the driver even more easily in keeping a safe distance and providing steering input, and now the vehicle speed is also automatically adjusted in bends and at road junctions. Also included are Active Emergency Stop Assist and a considerably improved Active Lane Change Assist.

The new S-Class has an even better view of the traffic situation: improved camera and radar systems will allow it to look further up ahead than ever before. It also makes substantially greater use of map and navigation data. This means that Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is able to assist the driver in many situations, even on a route-specific basis, and also comfortably adjust the vehicle speed.

The driver is also able to see at a glance which assistance functions have been selected, and which situations the systems are reacting to at the given moment.

The individual functions in detail:

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC: The speed preset can be predictively reduced according to the route ahead of bends, junctions, roundabouts or toll booths, then increased after passing. If the route has been selected using the navigation system, the S-Class also responds accordingly: if the vehicle is in the furthest right lane, it decelerates when approaching the desired interstate exit. The same applies to junctions where the navigation route predicts a turn or when the driver activates the turn indicator.

The reduction in speed occurs in varying degrees, depending on the selected transmission mode (ECO, COMFORT SPORT or INDIVIDUAL). In ECO mode, the cornering speed is configured to correspond with Active Steering Assist. This means that assisted driving for longer periods is possible on country roads. On highways and multi-lane roads, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC controls the distance from the vehicle ahead within a larger speed range than in previous years and keeps the car on track.

Coasting characteristics can now also be taken into account. In the interests of smooth and efficient driving, the speed is reduced. If the vehicle is equipped with a drive system suitable for “gliding” (coasting with the engine off), this mode is automatically activated when the ECO transmission mode is active.

Active Lane Change Assist: When the driver wishes to change lanes on multi-lane roads (as recognized by the navigation system) at highway speeds, it is now sufficient to simply nudge the indicator stalk. Within the next few seconds, the sensors, along with the driver, check whether the adjacent lane is clear – in front of, alongside and behind the vehicle, also taking into account the speed of any other vehicles. When there is no other vehicle within the relevant safety zone, the driver is supported in changing lanes. The initiated lane change is indicated in the instrument cluster and on the head-up display.

Active Speed Limit Assist: In conjunction with COMAND® Navigation, Active Speed Limit Assist – an active advancement of Traffic Sign Assist – is also able to recognize most traffic signs. Known speed limits, are also adopted from the navigation system. Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC adapts the vehicle’s speed to the recognized speed limits automatically. In certain cases, the speed can be adjusted preemptively on the basis of map data.

Active Emergency Stop Assist: If this system detects that the driver is no longer actively driving the vehicle, it is able to brake the vehicle to a standstill in its lane if Active Steering Assist is enabled. There are several steps that have to take place before Active Emergency Stop Assist will intervene. If there is no steering wheel movement over a predefined period, the system gives the driver a visual and audible prompt to place his/her hands on the wheel. If the driver fails to respond after repeated visual and audible prompts by moving the steering wheel, accelerating, braking or pressing the Touch Control Buttons on the steering wheel, the car will be slowed down in the identified lane until it comes to a standstill. At slower speeds, the traffic behind the vehicle is warned by means of activating the hazard lights. When the vehicle comes to a standstill, the parking brake is engaged automatically. With available mbrace® Secure, the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is activated. The vehicle is also unlocked to allow first aid responders immediate access to the interior. All these actions are cancelled as soon as the driver takes control of the vehicle again.

Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function: This system is able to help the driver avoid impending collisions with vehicles ahead, stationary or crossing vehicles and pedestrians if the driver fails to take any action to defuse the dangerous situation. This assistance takes the form of:

  • a warning light in the instrument cluster, if the distance from a vehicle in front is inadequate
  • an additional audible warning when a danger of collision is identified
  • assisted emergency braking to avoid a collision with moving, stationary or crossing vehicles ahead
  • assisted emergency braking for pedestrians
  • supplemental braking assistance as soon as the driver applies the brakes

Evasive Steering Assist: Evasive Steering Assist can support the driver in taking evasive action when pedestrians are detected in the danger zone in front of the vehicle, but only after the driver initiates such action. The system then applies additional steering torque in the direction in which the driver is performing an evasive maneuver. This helps the driver to avoid a pedestrian in a controlled manner and to stabilize the vehicle afterwards on its orginal course.

Active Lane Keeping Assist: This system is able to warn the driver by means of vibrations of the steering wheel when the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of its lane. If the vehicle passes over a solid line, this system can pull the vehicle back into lane by applying the brakes on one side. In the case of crossing a broken line, such intervention takes place only when there is a danger of collision with a vehicle in the next lane (including danger from oncoming traffic).

Active Blind Spot Assist: In a wide range of speeds, this system is able to provide the driver with a visual alert, plus an audible alarm when a turn indicator is actuated, to warn of a side collision with another vehicle, or even bicycles, for example. At higher speeds, one-sided, automatic braking can additionally be applied to help avoid a side collision.

Traffic Sign Assist: Traffic Sign Assist displays the current speed limit on the headunit or instrument cluster display as well as the Head Up Display by gathering data embedded in the navigation system.

Car-to-X Communication: Information concerning hazardous situations which a vehicle on the road has detected is made available to all other equipped vehicles in the general area to give drivers an early warning. As with Live Traffic, reports transmitted by Car-to-X Communication are shown on the COMAND® Navigation map. Depending on the situation, a warning by voice output can be given when approaching a hazard.

Active Parking Assist: Active Parking Assist supports the driver in searching for a parking space and when entering or leaving parallel or straight-on parking spaces. In the case of straight-on parking spaces, it is active in both forward and reverse directions. Active Parking Assist maneuvers the vehicle automatically into the selected parking space. In the case of Active Parking Assist with the Surround View System, all-around vision is made possible by the reversing camera and three additional cameras. The information is presented clearly in full HD in a choice of different views on the central display.

Interview: “Autonomous driving is becoming more and more tangible”

What are the innovation drivers on the way to autonomous driving? And what is the strategy of Mercedes-Benz on the way to series production? A conversation with Dr. Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving and Active Safety at Mercedes-Benz:

For Dr. Hafner, hardly a week goes by without some new report that the car industry or an IT company is testing automated cars or trucks on the public roads. One might gain the impression that the first automated cars will be in the showrooms fairly soon. Is that mistaken?

Hafner: It is if you interpret “automated” to mean that the car can completely dispense with the need for a driver. But we are approaching this goal more purposefully and faster than many people suspect. Back in 2013, our journey on the historical Bertha Benz route from Mannheim to Pforzheim with the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE already showed that fully automated driving in urban and inter-city traffic is possible with near-production technology. However, the preconditions for bringing automated driving functions onto the roads on a large scale go well beyond technical development, and include resolving legal issues in particular. One thing is clear: the new S-Class will be able to support its driver considerably better than all systems which have been available to date.

So what are the innovation drivers for new, automated driving functions such as those making their debut in the new S-Class – new cameras and improved sensors?

Hafner: On the one hand it is the hardware improvements – for example, higher-performance cameras with a longer range – and on the other hand it is the ever more intelligent combination of individual systems, which we refer to as sensor fusion. Another factor is our accumulated experience in the field of automated driving – particularly with regard to programming the software for the assistance functions from which customers are now able to benefit. We have always done this work in-house, as a result of which we are able to implement new ideas very quickly. As a pioneer in automotive safety, Mercedes-Benz also conducts more intensive research in this field than any other automobile brand. And as part of the Daimler group, we also benefit from the development know-how and operational experience of the three commercial vehicle divisions – Daimler Trucks, Daimler Buses and Mercedes-Benz Vans. After all, autonomous driving will not just revolutionize car traffic, but mobility as a whole, and naturally our commercial vehicle colleagues are also on the case. Think of the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus presented in 2016, for example, which can drive at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) on a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route, stop inch-perfect at bus stops and traffic lights, move off automatically and brake in response to obstacles or pedestrians in the road.

Let us talk about how assistance systems are received by customers. How do you ensure that customers are happy to trust in the “assistants” without any reservations?

Hafner: Particularly with regard to the development of assistance systems, we adhere to our strategy of only introducing innovations when they are mature and can benefit our customers. With a valid safety concept and comprehensive trials ahead of the market launch, we have always been able to prove to our customers of our systems’ maturity. The feedback which we have received from many customers also confirms that we are designing our automated driving functions along the right lines. With the new driving assistance generation we are now introducing in the facelifted S-Class, autonomous driving is becoming yet even more tangible. The scope of automated driving functions has been expanded in line with practical needs and now provides further enhanced, tangible customer benefits on virtually all types of roads.

So the number of use cases for automated driving functions in the new S-Class has increased?

Hafner: Yes. Take the new, Route-Based Speed Adaptation function, for example. Ahead of bends, T-junctions, roundabouts, toll booths and exit roads, the vehicle is now able to reduce the speed in anticipatory mode by referencing the COMAND map data. Innovations must not be an end in themselves, but rather make good sense for the customer. And their user-friendliness is often also decisive when it comes to acceptance. In the new driving assistance generation, the progress made here is reflected in the extended, even more intuitive status displays in the instrument cluster and on the head-up display.

So many smaller steps are being taken, but Mercedes-Benz is not losing sight of its vision of autonomous driving, is it?

Hafner: No, quite the contrary: within the new corporate strategy CASE, of which one pillar is “Autonomous,” underlines the central importance of this aspect. We are continuing to pursue our vision of accident-free driving, and this ambitious aim can only be achieved through many smaller steps, culminating in the autonomously driving car.

About the interviewee

As Head of the Automated Driving and Active Safety unit at Mercedes-Benz Cars, Dr. Michael E. Hafner is responsible for the development of future driving functions on the way to autonomous driving. Dr. Hafner studied electrical engineering and industrial information technology at the University of Karlsruhe, then earned his doctorate in automation technology at the Technical University in Darmstadt. After joining Daimler in 2002, he held managerial positions for onboard diagnosis and emissions certification before taking on the role of assistant to the Board of Management member for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development (RD). From 2010 to 2013 he headed the development of E/E brake control and suspension systems, before becoming Head of Driving Assistance Systems and Active Safety. Since October 2016 he has also been responsible for all development activities for fully-automated driving.

Quick facts: Did you know that…

…Genius, the educational initiative by Daimler, also gives teachers further training in safety technology? For example, there are classes in “Sensors and Actuators” for secondary level I (fifth to tenth grades). The material covers driving assistance and safety systems such as distance control, ABS and airbags, as well as Attention Assist and Blind Spot Assist. Daimler’s intention with its educational initiative Genius is to encourage the enthusiasm of children and adolescents for science and technology.

…the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle, nicknamed “Bertha”? In 2013, the S-Class with near-series technology covered the historic Bertha Benz route from Mannheim to Pforzheim autonomously.

…the research laboratory moovel lab presented a children’s book on autonomous driving at the Frankfurt Book Fair in 2016? “Where Do Cars Go at Night?” is the title of this 25-page English-language book designed to encourage children and adults to take part in the social debate about the future of mobility. The illustrated story describes a day in the life of the self-driving car “Carla-15”.

…Daimler scientists teach cars to see and recognize complex traffic situations by using so-called scene labelling? Development engineers in the “Environment Sensing” department showed their system thousands of photos from various German cities. In the photos, they had precisely labelled by hand 25 different object categories, such as vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, streets, pavements, buildings, posts and trees. On the basis of these examples, the system learned to automatically and correctly classify completely unknown images and thus detect objects of importance for the purposes of driver assistance, even if the objects were greatly obscured or far away. This is made possible by powerful computers that are artificially neurally networked in a manner similar to the human brain. Consequently, the system functions in a manner comparable to human vision.

…Active Parking Assist, when paired with Surround View System, is equipped with 4 cameras and 12 ultrasonic sensors? These link up to produce a virtual 360° image, enabling a bird’s eye view of the vehicle and its surroundings. The image covers an area approximately 3 m (10 ft) around the vehicle.

…three different radar systems and a stereo multi-purpose camera are used for the driving assistance systems? A long-range radar scans the road ahead of the vehicle across a distance of approximately 250 m (820 ft) in various ranges and beam angles and is able to detect relevant vehicles in bends even on multi-lane roads by linking with the steering angle. Multi-mode radar sensors scan the directly surrounding area alongside and behind the vehicle at a larger angle. They are able to scan asymmetrically into the blind spot at the side while at the same time covering a range of approximately 80 m (263 ft) directly behind the vehicle, in order to detect overtaking vehicles, for example. The stereo camera is able to cover a range of approximately 90 m (295 ft) in 3D; it is also used as a multipurpose camera over a range of up to about 500 m (1,640 ft).

Test facilities and tools: Non-stop focus on critical driving maneuvers

Even before ready-to-drive prototypes exist, new assistance systems at Mercedes-Benz have long proved their worth in highly realistic driving maneuvers in a driving simulator. As a next step, test drives are then carried out on enclosed test sites such as the purpose-built “SimCity” in Sindelfingen. And finally, before market launch, practical trials covering millions of miles are conducted on public roads.

Numerous simulators are employed as standard practice in the development and testing of new vehicles at Mercedes-Benz. “Digital prototypes” of a vehicle, created with the aid of high-performance computers, allow comprehensive testing of a new model in many driving situations before the actual vehicle exists in real life. The best possible development results are obtained by intelligently combining state-of-the-art simulation methods with highly intensive practical trials covering millions of miles The latter remain an indispensable part of the development process. As such, simulation and simulators are no substitute for real-life tests, but rather serve to supplement these tests.

The Moving Base Driving Simulator is an important test facility. It allows the safety experts at Mercedes-Benz to realistically simulate highly dynamic maneuvers such as lane changes, so as to conduct intensive research into driver and vehicle behavior on the road. Normal car drivers are able to approach the physical limits of driving performance with absolutely no danger, providing Mercedes-Benz engineers with invaluable findings on the acceptance and operation of new safety systems.

With its 360° screen, fast electric power system and the twelve-meter-long rail for transverse or longitudinal movements, the Moving Base simulator at Mercedes-Benz is among the most capable in the entire automotive industry. It was commissioned at the end of 2010.

One of the test sites at which new assistance systems can be tested away from the public roads is located at the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center (MTC) in Sindelfingen. Numerous critical driving maneuvers can be staged on the large asphalt surface: the test vehicles drive towards dummies at different speeds, or are put on a collision course with stationary or moving vehicle mockups. These also include the Balloon Cars developed by Mercedes-Benz safety experts for test and demonstration purposes. With these, the operation of radar-based driving assistance systems such as Active Brake Assist can be tested without danger. To this end the Balloon Car is attached to the trailer coupling of a vehicle travelling ahead. A test car equipped with the assistance system follows this trailer combination. Its radar is able to register the Balloon Car, as this has a corresponding structure under its soft skin.

The latest development stage is even able to do without a towing vehicle: a GPS-controlled self-driving platform carrying a relevant obstacle can be programmed with any required trajectories and moved around the open area at up to 70 km/h (43 ft). This enables simulation of the most diverse scenarios, from a stationary or stopping vehicle through slow vehicles ahead to vehicles veering into or out of the lane or even cross traffic. In the future, such a platform will also be used for test maneuvers in the Euro NCAP.

And it is not always flesh-and-blood test drivers who are at the wheel of the test cars – in 2010 Mercedes-Benz was the first automobile manufacturer to include an innovative testing method in its portfolio of test procedures: driving maneuvers that are critical to safety and cannot be precisely reproduced by humans are performed on enclosed test sites by autopilots. This “automated driving” assists in the development, testing and verification of assistance systems and other safety features. This makes it possible to carry out tests at critical limits safely and without endangering the developers. And there is a decisive advantage for Mercedes-Benz customers: as such tests can be conducted with the utmost precision, future assistance systems can be developed and verified with the quality expected of Mercedes-Benz, despite increasing complexity.

New testing possibilities for assistance systems have now been opened up by the Technology Center for Vehicle Safety (TFS), which commenced operations in November 2016. Its angled test track makes it possible to test active driving assistance systems with braking and steering intervention. A mobile crash block can be positioned on the angled surface as required. The vehicle is powered by a draw cable or its own engine.

Basic research: Tech Center a-drive

In January 2016 Daimler transformed its already close cooperation with the University of Ulm, the FZI research center for information technology and the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe (KIT) into a strategic partnership with the Tech Center a-drive. This is where engineers and computer scientists jointly develop methods, algorithms, actuators and sensors. In parallel with the technical challenges, social questions relating to responsibility and liability are also addressed. The aim is to rapidly evaluate the findings from basic research with field trials, so as to accelerate the development process.

Milestones: On the way to autonomous driving

“It has always been clear to Mercedes-Benz, as the inventor of the automobile, that the next major revolution in mobility will be the self-driving car,” says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars.”People have been dreaming of self-driving cars since the 1950s. We at Mercedes-Benz were the ones who once turned the vision of mobility without a horse into reality. Now it’s time for us to offer the possibility of managing without a driver as well.” The major milestones in recent years:

May 2013: The new S-Class relieves driver workload thanks to DISTRONIC PLUS with lane guidance, and is also able to follow vehicles automatically.

August 2013: With the S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle on a historic route, Mercedes-Benz is the first automobile manufacturer in the world to show that autonomous driving is also possible in inner-city and urban traffic. The route in question, covering the 100 kilometers or so from Mannheim to Pforzheim, retraced that taken by Bertha Benz when she boldly set off on the very first long-distance drive in 1888.

July 2014: With the Mercedes-Benz Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks undertakes the world’s very first autonomous truck journey on a closed-off section of the A14 autobahn near Magdeburg. The truck is equipped with the Highway Pilot assistance system, and is able to drive completely autonomously at motorway speeds of up to 85 km/h. The Highway Pilot features a frontal radar and a stereo camera, as well as well-proven assistance systems such as Adaptive Cruise Control +.

September 2014: Mercedes-Benz is among the first automobile manufacturers permitted to test autonomously driving cars on the public roads of California.

January 2015: With the autonomously driving luxury sedan F 015 Luxury in Motion, Mercedes-Benz demonstrates at the CES show in Las Vegas how the car is being transformed into a private place of retreat. One key aspect of the research vehicle is the continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and the outside world. Using laser projection and LED displays, the F 015 Luxury in Motion also makes contact with its surroundings to become a social partner in traffic.

May 2015: The Freightliner Inspiration Truck with the Highway Pilot system is the world’s first autonomously driving truck with road approval. The US state of Nevada certifies two Freightliner Inspiration trucks for regular test operations on public roads.

September 2015: Daimler organizes the symposium “Autonomous driving in the light of legislation and ethics” More than 100 specialists from industry, science, politics and the media discuss the new challenges.

October 2015: Daimler Trucks presents the first autonomously driving production truck permitted on public roads in Germany. The Mercedes-Benz Actros with the Highway Pilot system made its maiden journey on the A8 autobahn between Denkendorf and Stuttgart. It has since received approval to drive on all German motorways for test purposes.

October 2015: The design show car Mercedes-Benz Vision Tokyo makes efficient use of space, and is flexibly configurable and intelligently networked. The classic seating arrangement in rows is no more, as the occupants are seated on a large, oval couch. This unique lounge-style arrangement allows everyone on board to enjoy the benefits of autonomous driving.

January 2016: The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is the world’s first standard-production vehicle to be awarded a test license for autonomous driving in the US state of Nevada. Self-driving tests are permitted on interstates and state highways in Nevada, human drivers being required only for turning and when entering and exiting roads. The autonomous test drives in everyday traffic are carried out by specially trained test drivers.

January 2016: Daimler AG founds the Tech Center a-drive, transforming the existing, close cooperation with the University of Ulm, the research center for computer science (FZI) and the Institute of Technology in Karlsruhe (KIT) into a strategic partnership. One purpose of the Tech Center a-drive is to accelerate research into robust sensors and reliable autonomous decision making.

April 2016: The new E-Class sedan arrives in showrooms (June in the U.S.). With numerous innovative assistance systems such as Active Lane Change Assist, the world’s most intelligent sedan marks the next step on the way to autonomous driving.

April 2016: Three automated and interconnected Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks drive from Stuttgart to Rotterdam as a cross-border “platoon.” Together with five other European commercial vehicle manufacturers, Daimler Trucks takes part in the “European Truck Platooning Challenge 2016” rally organized by the Dutch government. The Mercedes-Benz trucks are networked by WLAN to form an automated 3-vehicle platoon, using Highway Pilot Connect.

July 2016: On an approximately 20 km-long (12 mi) route in Amsterdam, the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot completes its first automated journey in urban traffic. The bus drives at up to 70 km/h (43 mph) on a section of Europe’s longest Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route, stops with inch-perfect accuracy at bus-stops and traffic lights, moves off automatically, passes through tunnels, brakes for obstacles and pedestrians in the road and communicates with signaling systems. The driver is on board and monitors the system, but his workload is considerably reduced. Daimler Buses is the world’s first manufacturer to operate an automated city bus in day-to-day traffic.

December 2016: Stuttgart regional council grants Mercedes-Benz permission to test the next generation of autonomous vehicles on public roads. The current development focus for the new test car fleet is the autonomous car that comes to the user conveniently by app – without a driver. The aim of the autonomous test car fleet based on Mercedes-Benz V-Class vehicles is to carry out in-depth testing of the latest sensor generation and the DAVOS operating system (Daimler Autonomous Vehicle Operating System) in real-life traffic. New onboard features include LiDAR sensors plus deep learning technologies and graphics processors (GPUs), which have previously been scarcely used in the automobile sector.

January 2017: Daimler and Uber declare their intention to cooperate in the provision and operation of self-driving vehicles. In the coming years, as part of this cooperation, Daimler plans to offer autonomously driving Mercedes-Benz cars on the global platform of Uber.

March 2017: With numerous improved and new assistance systems, the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class marks the next level of automotive development.

Glossary: Terms and innovations from A to Z

Adaptive Highbeam Assist: Makes it possible to drive continuously with high beams without dazzling other road users and is active on roads with no lighting. Adaptive Highbeam Assist uses a stereo multipurpose camera located behind the windscreen to recognize other road users showing lights. When there are oncoming vehicles or vehicles in front, the LEDs of the main-beam modules are switched off. The other areas of the road continue to be illuminated with the low beam.

Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Function: This system can give a warning when the risk of an accident is detected, also assisting with emergency braking and if necessary, can even brake automatically. It is able to recognize slower-moving, stopped and stationary vehicles as well as crossing traffic at junctions, and pedestrians in the danger zone, using radar sensors and the stereo multipurpose camera. When danger is recognized, the system gives the driver visual and acoustic warnings. If the driver reacts and brakes, the system augments the braking effect as the situation requires, right up to emergency braking. If the driver fails to react, Active Brake Assist can automatically brake the vehicle.

Active Lane Keeping Assist: This feature is able to give the driver a visual and acoustic warning if the vehicle leaves its lane unintentionally. If the driver fails to react, Active Lane Keeping Assist can use braking intervention to help prevent a collision. Active Lane Change Assist: As soon as the driver initiates a lane change by operating the indicators, and if the system detects no other vehicle in the adjacent lane, the car is automatically steered into that lane.

Active Blind Spot Assist: This system is able to help the driver carry out lane changes with the greatest possible safety – in town, on multi-lane highways and on motorways. In urban traffic, cyclists can also be recognized. The system relieves driver stress by giving a warning when it detects vehicles in the driver’s blind spot, and can therefore prevent a collision. Active Blind Spot Assist distinguishes between a warning zone and a collision zone, and can further help prevent a collision via braking intervention if the driver ignores the audible and visual warnings If the driver or a prioritized driving safety system intervenes, for example ESP® or Active Brake Assist, the course-correcting braking intervention is suppressed or ended.

Surround View System: This system allows parking and maneuvering with a realistic all-round view, thanks to four networked cameras. The car and its surroundings can be depicted in the media display from a virtual bird’s-eye view, and obstacles beneath the window line are even visible to the driver.

Torque Vectoring Brake: Especially when accelerating on bends, this ESP®-based system ensures greater stability and driving safety. If the ESP® sensors register a tendency to understeer, this can be reduced by specific braking action on the vehicle side facing the bend. This intervention leads to a gentle yawing motion around the vehicle’s vertical axis, which counteracts the understeer. At the same time the drive torque is slightly increased to compensate the braking torque, and this excess torque is distributed to the outer wheel. This means that the vehicle can be steered through the bend in a more precise and controlled manner.

Driver Assistance Package: Various assistance functions can noticeably relieve the driver’s workloadby automatically regulating distance and speed, and by assisting with steering:

  • Active Brake Assist with Cross-Traffic Functioncan help to prevent accidents with vehicles travelling ahead or crossing, and also with pedestrians, or to mitigate their consequences
  • Evasive Steering Assist can assist the driver with an evasive maneuver once he/she has decided to avoid a pedestrian detected by the system
  • Active Blind Spot Assist can warn a driver changing lanes of vehicles in the blind spot, and also trigger one-sided braking intervention to prevent a collision
  • Active Lane Keeping Assist can warn a driver who appears to be drifting unintentionally out of lane, and also trigger one-sided braking intervention to bring the vehicle back into its lane (also where lane markings are interrupted if there is a risk of collision)
  • Active Steering Assist generates steering torque which helps the driver to stay in the center of the lane on straight roads and slight bends, taking its guidance from vehicles ahead and lane markings
    • Active Lane Change Assist automatically steers the vehicle into the adjacent lane as soon as the driver initiates a lane change by operating the indicators, and as long as the system detects no other vehicle in that lane
    • Active Emergency Stop Assist brakes the vehicle to a stop in a controlled manner when the system recognizes that the driver is distracted for a longer period or cannot intervene in vehicle control
    • Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC operates within a wide speed range and reacts to stationary vehicles at low speeds
    • Route-Based Speed Adaptation: the speed preset in DISTRONIC is predictively reduced according to the route ahead of bends, junctions, roundabouts or toll booths, then increased back up to the set speed. If the route has been selected using the navigation system, the S-Class also responds accordingly: if the vehicle is in the furthest right lane, it is decelerated when approaching the desired motorway exit. The same applies to junctions where the navigation route recommends a turn.
  • Active Speed Limit Assist is automatically able to adopt speed limits recognized from navigation map data or by the camera while driving with Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC activated
  • PRE-SAFE® PLUS is able to initiate preventive measures before an imminent collision from behind in order to protect the occupants, including warning surrounding traffic, activating the belt tensioners or locking the brakes of the vehicle when stationary

Night View Assist® PLUS enables the driver to recognize people or animals sooner in the dark as they are clearly shown in the instrument display. To do this, the system projects two beams of dazzle-free infrared light onto the road ahead. With the help of an infrared camera behind the windscreen, the entire high beam range is shown as a crystal clear greyscale image. A thermal imaging camera in the radiator grille allows precise warnings to be given, by distinguishing irrelevant objects such as combinations of road signs or bushes from relevant objects such as people and large animals. These are highlighted in color with small frames in the display. The Spotlight function allows pedestrians in danger to be flashed at repeatedly, so that the driver registers them more quickly and they recognize the danger of the situation. In normal operation, the night view image only switches on automatically when a risky situation is recognized.

Source: Mercedes-Benz USA

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