2018 S-Class Takes Driver Assistance Upward?

AutoInformed.com on Driver Assist systemsDaimler is gushing about extended driver assistance functions on the new S‑Class that appears to be a continuation of industry trends. This fall – in what is perhaps over-billed as a major step towards autonomous vehicles via driver assistance systems – the Mercedes-Benz S-Class will have Active Distance Assist and Active Steering Assist – forgive the marketing quasi-babble for these complex driver aids that are necessary steps on the road to autonomous vehicles.

Daimler says these will now help the driver in keeping a safe distance and steering the vehicle. The  speed is also now automatically adjusted in curves and at road intersections. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and an improved Active Lane Change Assist.

“The new S-Class raises Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Drive to the next level,” says Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving and Active Safety at Mercedes‑Benz who was paid to claim what is a possibly verifiable assertion that awaits independent testing.

With enhanced camera and radar systems, the new S‑Class – in theory – quite possibly has a better view of the traffic situations. In addition, for the first time it makes use of map and navigation data to calculate computer assisted – or controlled – driving behavior.

The driver is also able to see which assistance functions have been selected, and to what situations the systems are reacting to at present. This, of course, is a valid criticism of current production systems. (Autonomous Systems Ignore Users, It’s Claimed) A steering wheel with paddles on both sides – gives information both on the screen and in a head-up display. All functions are now controlled from the steering wheel.

Driver Assist Functions

Active Distance Assist Distronic and Active Steering Assist now support the driver by keeping a safe distance. Steering and the vehicle speed is now also automatically adjusted in curves, and at road junctions. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and a “considerably improved” Active Lane Change Assist.

Active Distance Assist Distronic comes about as the speed preset is predicatively reduced according to the route ahead with bends, junctions, roundabouts or toll booths considered, then increased up afterward. If the route is selected using the navigation system, the S‑Class also responds accordingly. If the car is in the slow lane, it is decelerated when approaching the desired motorway exit. The same applies to junctions where the navigation route prescribes a turn-off or ahead of whine the driver activates the turn indicator.

  • The reduction in speed varies, depending on the selected transmission mode (Eco, Comfort or Sport). In Eco mode, the cornering speed is set to harmonize with Steering Assist. This means that automated driving for longer periods is also a reality on country roads, not just high speed, limited access roads. On highways and motorways, Active Distance Assist Distronic keeps the distance from the vehicle ahead within a speed range from 0 to 210 km/h, and keeps the car on track.
  • Coasting characteristics, e.g. on downhill slopes, can now also be controlled. In the interests of smooth and efficient driving, the speed is reduced quickly. 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 helps when the driver wishes to change lanes on multi-lane roads (recognized by the navigation system) at speeds from 80 to 180 km/h, it is now sufficient to nudge the indicator stalk. Within the next ten seconds, the sensor system checks together with the driver whether the next lane is clear in front of, alongside and behind the vehicle, also considering the speed of any other vehicles. When there is no other vehicle within the relevant safety zone, the driver is supported in changing lane. The initiated lane change is indicated in the instrument cluster and on the head-up display.

 Active Speed Limit Assist, an engageable sub-function of Traffic Sign Assist, is also able to recognize sign poles and road works signs. Known limits, such as 50 km/h in built-up areas or 100 km/h on country roads, 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 adapted in anticipatory mode based on map data. On roads without speed limits, such as stretches on German motorways, the recommended speed – in this case 130 km/h – is adopted as the set speed. This speed can be adjusted by the driver. The desired maximum speed is adopted during the journey when the speed limit is lifted. It remains preset until the vehicle leaves the motorway or until the engine is switched off.

  • In stop-and-go traffic on motorways and similar roads, stops of up to 30 seconds are now possible, within which the S‑Class automatically moves off and follows the traffic ahead.

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 switched on. 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 Button on the steering wheel, the car will be slowed down in the identified lane until it comes to a standstill.

  • At speeds below approx. 60 km/h the following traffic is warned by means of hazard warning lamps. When the vehicle comes to a standstill, the parking brake is engaged automatically and the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is activated. The vehicle is also unlocked, to allow first aiders access to the interior. The functions are aborted as soon as the driver takes control of the vehicle again.

Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function can help the driver avoid impending collisions with vehicles ahead, stationary or crossing vehicles and with people if the driver fails to take any action to defuse the dangerous situation. This assistance takes the form of a distance warning from a warning lamp 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, autonomous emergency braking is invoked to avoid a collision with moving stationary or crossing vehicles ahead.

Autonomous emergency braking for pedestrians is a situation-related braking assistance as soon as the driver applies the brakes. Evasive Steering Assist can support the driver in taking evasive action when pedestrians are detected in the danger zone in front of the vehicle and the driver initiates such action. The system then applies additional steering torque in the direction in which the driver is performing an evasive maneuver.

Active Lane Keeping Assist can warn the driver by means of pulsed vibrations on the steering wheel when the vehicle is unintentionally drifting out of its lane at speeds between 60 and 200 km/h. If the vehicle passes over a continuous line, it can pull the vehicle back into lane by applying the brakes on one side. In the case of 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 the speed range from ~10 to 200 km/ can provide the driver with a visual alert, plus an audible alarm when a turn indicator is actuated, to warn of a danger of side collisions with other vehicles, including bicycles, for example. At speeds above 30 km/h, automatic braking on one side of the vehicle can additionally be applied to help avoid a side collision at the last moment.

Traffic Sign Assist uses image recognition and information from the digital road map in the navigation system allow the permitted maximum speed and any restrictions on overtaking for the current route section and zebra crossings to be computed and shown in the instrument cluster. Additional restrictions such as speed limits in wet conditions (warning when the windscreen wipers are switched on) or speed limits for trucks only are also considered or ignored as appropriate in the individual case concerned. The road speed is compared with the maximum permissible speed. If set to do so by the driver, a visual/visual-acoustic warning is given if the speed limit is exceeded. No-entry signs are also recognized and the driver is prompted to check the vehicle’s direction of travel. A warning additionally appears in the instrument cluster and on the head-up display when persons are detected in zebra crossings.

Car-to-X Communication is used when a vehicle on the road is detected and made available to all other Car-to‑X users to give drivers an early warning. As with Live Traffic Information, reports transmitted by Car-to‑X are shown on the Comand Online map display. Depending on the situation, a warning by voice output can be given when approaching a hazard.

Active Parking Assist with Parking Assist supports the driver in searching for a parking space and when entering or leaving parallel or end-on parking spaces. In the case of end-on parking spaces it is active in both forward and reverse direction. It maneuvers the vehicle automatically into the selected parking space.

  • In conjunction with Blind Spot Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Alert can warn the driver of cross traffic when reversing out of end-on parking spaces and can also initiate automatic braking if necessary. In the case of Active Parking Assist with 360° camera, all-round vision is made possible by the reversing camera and three additional cameras. The information is presented in HD in a choice of different views on the central display.

Remote Parking Assist enables the driver to maneuver the vehicle into tight parking spaces or garages by smartphone, to help entering and alighting from the vehicle. The vehicle can be maneuvered into parallel and end-on parking spaces in both forward and reverse direction. Maneuvering out of end-on parking spaces is also possible, e.g. if the driver returns to their vehicle to find that it has been blocked in.

  • In Explore mode the vehicle can be maneuvered straight forward or in reverse by up to fifteen meters, avoiding detected obstacles. In narrow passageways, following confirmation by the driver the vehicle can fold in the exterior mirrors so that it can approach the detected obstacle more closely (e.g. narrow garage entrance).

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 switched on. 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 Button on the steering wheel, the car will be slowed down in the identified lane until it comes to a standstill.

  • At speeds below approx. 60 km/h the following traffic is warned by means of hazard warning lamps. When the vehicle comes to a standstill, the parking brake is engaged automatically and the Mercedes-Benz emergency call system is activated. The vehicle is also unlocked, to allow first aiders access to the interior. The functions are aborted as soon as the driver takes control of the vehicle again.

Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function can help the driver avoid impending collisions with vehicles ahead, stationary or crossing vehicles and with people if the driver fails to take any action to defuse the dangerous situation. This assistance takes the form of:

  • a distance warning from a warning lamp 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
  • autonomous emergency braking to avoid a collision with moving stationary or crossing vehicles ahead
  • autonomous emergency braking for pedestrians
  • situation-related braking assistance as soon as the driver applies the brakes.

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.

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One Response to 2018 S-Class Takes Driver Assistance Upward?

  1. Autocrat says:

    The new Mercedes-Benz S-Class has its world première in a few days at Auto Shanghai (19 to 28 April). Among the highlights is an all-new and highly efficient engine range with a series of new technologies for electrification of the powertrain. Intelligent Drive takes another step towards autonomous driving. The market launch of the new S-Class starts in European markets this July.

    Several new engines are planned for the new S-Class: in-line six cylinders as diesel and gasoline engines, as well as a new V8 bi-turbo gasoline engine. In addition, Mercedes-Benz plans a plug-in hybrid with an electric range of about 50 kilometers. At the same time, ground-breaking technologies such as the 48‑volt Integrated Starter Alternator and an electric booster compressor will have their world premieres.

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