For over 50 years, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class (the designation only came in the late 1980s) has been the flagship of the German carmaker’s range. In that position, it has naturally been the pioneer where new automotive technologies have been concerned. ABS, for example, was first offered as standard in the S-Class in the early 1980s along with airbags. In later years, as the capability of microprocessors increased, more sophisticated electronic systems – many to do with Active Safety – would be developed and would make their initial debut in the S-Class.

The next generation of the Mercedes-Benz flagship, to be launched in 2013, will continue this tradition of being the trendsetter. It will herald the arrival of a whole new dimension of motoring which Mercedes-Benz calls “Intelligent Drive” and this will see the next generation of the S-Class boasting an array of new systems designed to make driving an even safer and more comfortable experience.

Partially camouflaged prototype of the next S-Class (W222)

“The new S-Class will be equipped with systems that include the necessary means to do the same in complex traffic situations. In this way, comfort and safety systems merge together into a new dimension of motoring, opening up brand new prospects,” said Professor Dr. Thomas Weber, the Member of the Daimler Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

According to Professor Weber, the intelligent assistance systems of the future will be able to analyse complex situations and recognise potential dangers out on the road with the aid of improved environment sensor systems even more accurately than today. “Figuratively speaking, the next S-Class won’t just have eyes at the front; it will have 360-degree all-round vision,” he explained.

Of crucial importance in this respect is the networking of all systems, or “sensor fusion”, as the safety experts call it. Mercedes-Benz is continually enhancing the performance capabilities of its assistance systems with the aim of ensuring comprehensive protection, not just for the occupants of a Mercedes-Benz, but for all other road-users, too.

BAS PLUS assistance system with Cross-Traffic Assist

The new systems hold tremendous potential for either preventing accidents or mitigating their consequences. For instance, the new BAS PLUS assistance system with Cross-Traffic Assist could either prevent or lessen the severity of 27% of all accidents at road junctions resulting in personal injury. That equates to some 20,000 accidents a year in Germany alone.

A more advanced PRE-SAFE feature known as PLUScan will recognize an imminent rear-end collision, prompting the system to trigger occupant-protection measures. It can also firmly apply the stationary vehicle’s brakes in the event of a rear-end collision to prevent secondary accidents.

Various sensors will detect hazards ahead and apply the brakes quickly if the driver takes no appropriate action

Active Lane Keeping Assist – which will also be found in the new S-Class – can detect oncoming traffic and when the adjacent lane is not clear, and prevent the vehicle from leaving its lane unintentionally by applying the brakes on one side.

The driver will also be able to see better at night, improving safety, with Night View Assist PLUScan. The system (more advanced than the system already available in today’s S-Class) will alert the driver to the potential danger posed by pedestrians or animals in unlit areas in front of the vehicle by automatically switching from the speedometer display to a crystal-sharp night view image and highlighting the source of danger. A spotlight function is furthermore able to flash at pedestrians detected ahead.

Night vision system in current S-Class (right) allows the driver to see more clearly at night

The new S-Class will also live up to its pioneering reputation when it comes to lighting technology. It will be the first vehicle in the world to dispense complete with the light bulb. “With its long life and a headlamp colour temperature resembling daylight, LED technology already had a great deal in its favour,” remarked Professor Weber. “Now, though, our engineers have made great advances where energy-efficiency is concerned too, reducing power consumption to a quarter of that of conventional headlamps.”

He added that the lighting’s multi-level functionality will be another world first: taking into consideration road-users behind, the intensity of the brake lights reduce at night-time or while waiting at traffic lights.

In many ways, the technologies in the new S-Class will the ‘autonomous’ car closer to reality. “A decade ago, technologies that are taken for granted today were regarded by many as just wishful thinking. For that reason, I am certain that we will keep getting closer and closer to the notion of autonomous driving, too. By no means do we wish to take over control from the driver, however. Instead, the aim is to relieve motorists when driving is more of a burden than a pleasure – on the monotonous daily commute, for example, or in stop-and-go traffic,” assured Professor Weber.

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One Comment

  1. Basically a lot of ‘nanny systems’ put together. No new technology to save the world (eco tech) such as improved engine technology or weight reduction, only more efficient lighting which probably contributes about a fraction of percentage of improvement in efficiency. Still the same bloated, over weight car with ever more frills. Nothing really clever. Shame on Mercedes Benz.

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