• Driving assistance systems in S-Class: Intelligent Drive Next Level.
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    Driving assistance systems in S-Class: Intelligent Drive Next Level.

    With new and considerably extended driving assistance functions, the new S‑Class will this autumn be taking a further, major step towards autonomous driving.

A big step.

'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. From the autumn, the new S‑Class will be able to support its driver considerably better than all systems which have been available to date.'

With new and considerably extended driving assistance functions, the new S‑Class will this autumn be taking a further, major step towards 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 the vehicle speed is now also automatically adjusted in bends and at road junctions. Also on board are Active Emergency Stop Assist and a considerably improved Active Lane Change Assist.


Map and navigation data.

Thanks to enhanced camera and radar systems, the new S‑Class has an even better view of the traffic situation. It also makes use of map and navigation data to calculate driving behaviour for the first time. The driver is able to see at a glance which assistance functions have been selected, and to which situations the systems are reacting at present. Easily understandable icons – e.g. a steering wheel with hands on both sides – give information both on the screen and in the head-up display. All functions are now controlled from the steering wheel. As a pioneer of automotive safety, Mercedes-Benz pursues research in this field with a rigour unmatched by any other car manufacturer. 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.”


Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC.

The speed preset in DISTRONIC is predictively reduced according to the route ahead of bends, junctions, roundabouts or toll booths, then increased back up. If the route has been 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 which the driver activates the turn indicator.

The reduction in speed is in varying degrees, depending on the selected transmission mode (ECO, COMFORT or SPORT). In ECO mode, the cornering speed is configured to harmonise with Steering Assist. This means that automated driving for longer periods is also a reality on country roads. On highways and motorways, Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC controls 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 taken into account. In the interests of smooth and efficient driving, the speed is reduced in good time. 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 (recognised 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 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 Online, Active Speed Limit Assist – an engageable subfunction of Traffic Sign Assist – is also able to recognise sign gantries 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 recognised speed limits automatically. In certain cases, the speed can be adapted in anticipatory mode on the basis of 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 always adopted in the course of the journey when the speed limit is lifted. It remains preset until the vehicle leaves the motorway or until the engine is switched off.


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Following vehicles in a tailback.

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.

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.

Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function is able to 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 and situation-related braking assistance as soon as the driver applies the brakes.


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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 and the driver initiates such action. The system then applies additional steering torque in the direction in which the driver is performing an evasive manoeuvre. This helps the driver to evade the pedestrian in a controlled manner and to stabilise the vehicle on its evasive course.


Active Lane Keeping and Blind Spot Assist.

This system is able to 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).

In the speed range from approx. 10 to 200 km/h, 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 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.

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 taken into account 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 recognised 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 the area of zebra crossings.


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Car-to-X Communication.

Information concerning hazardous situations which a vehicle on the road has detected is 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.

Active Parking Assist with Parking Assist PARKTRONIC 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 manoeuvres 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 clearly in Full HD in a choice of different views on the central display.


Remote Parking Assist.

Remote Parking Assist enables the driver to manoeuvre the vehicle into tight parking spaces or garages by smartphone, so as to facilitate entering and alighting from the vehicle. The vehicle can be manoeuvred into parallel and end-on parking spaces in both forward and reverse direction. Manoeuvring 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 manoeuvred straight forward or in reverse by up to fifteen metres, avoiding detected obstacles. In narrow passageways, following confirmation by the driver the vehicle is able to fold in the exterior mirrors so that it can approach the detected obstacle more closely (e.g. narrow garage entrance).


Autonomous driving: Mercedes-Benz car with interactive symbols.

    The new human-machine team.

    • 24. November 2016
    • Connectivity
    • Illustration: Romain Trystram
    • Text: Günter Engelen
    • Photos: Daimler

    “The goal is a new relationship between driver and vehicle.” Axel Gern, Head of Autonomous Driving, MBRDNA on research approaches to autonomous driving.

    MR GERN, EXPERT KNOWLEDGE ABOUT AUTONOMOUS DRIVING IS SPREADING RAPIDLY AROUND THE WORLD. HOW ARE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES KEEPING PACE?

    Digitalisation, autonomous driving and connectivity have a decisive influence on our future vehicle concepts. Daimler therefore maintains a potent global research and development network with around 16,000 staff members. Mercedes-Benz Research & Development North America has been in existence for over two decades in Silicon Valley. With a team of around 20, we were the very first OEM to set up a base there. We now have over 240 employees. We research the latest developments in the fields of autonomous driving, advanced user experience design, machine learning and business innovation. My team has been out on the roads of California since 2014. We were one of the first manufacturers to be granted a licence to trial self-driving vehicles in California. Yet our focus is on the autonomous driving of not just tomorrow, but also the day after tomorrow. For example, one of the main ideas behind our future vision of the self-driving vehicle, the F 015 Luxury in Motion, is a continuous exchange of information between vehicle, passengers and outside world. The passengers can interact intuitively with the vehicle using gestures, eye-tracking or touch. We know that, in urban traffic of the future, the space will be shared between humans and machines. Therefore, the F 015 is able, among other things, to communicate audibly and visually with its environment and, for example, to project a zebra crossing onto the road. These are all ideas that are thought up here in Sunnyvale.

     

    WHAT IS MERCEDES-BENZ’ APPROACH TO AUTONOMOUS DRIVING?

    Mercedes-Benz is adopting a twin-track approach to the development of autonomous driving. With the further development of existing driver assistance systems, such as Distance Pilot DISTRONIC, which is capable of semi-autonomously following the vehicle in front in a traffic jam, or DRIVE PILOT in the new E-Class, we are adopting the so-called evolutionary approach. This will be gradually further developed. The second approach is the development of fully self-driving vehicles. Let us imagine, for example, that, one day, you can leave your vehicle at the entrance to a multi-storey car park and the vehicle then goes off and parks itself. Of course, it would also “pick you up” when you wish to continue your journey. Or imagine a car2go that makes its own way to you when you need one. We are also working on this revolutionary approach.

    WHAT ARE THE NEXT STEPS?

    The next big step will be the one from partially automated Level 2 to highly automated Level 3, mainly in the motorway scenario, in which there are neither traffic lights nor pedestrians or cyclists and in which the carriageways are separated by crash barriers. Almost all vehicle manufacturers are currently working in this direction. This requires further advances in terms of sensors. LiDAR is extremely important in this regard. It is excellently suited for localisation and object recognition. The goal is the intelligent combination of the various sensor principles. Connectivity is in need of further optimisation, and the sensors themselves also have more potential. For instance, sensors are still highly dependent on the weather, and there is also room for improvement on the cost and design fronts.

    APART FROM THAT, AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURERS ARE INCREASINGLY EVOLVING INTO MOBILITY SERVICE PROVIDERS.

    That’s right. This is once again the revolutionary approach. Here, the focus is on robotaxis as well as on autonomous carsharing vehicles. Mobility is a service that needs to be as low-cost and convenient as possible. This approach will presumably also decisively change the face of local public transport. For the end customer who is no longer the vehicle owner, the looks of the vehicle will then play a minor role.

     

    CAN AN AUTOMOTIVE MANUFACTURER STILL MAKE MONEY FROM THIS?

    The costs of such a system are dependent on the business case. A LiDAR system costing several thousand euros could pay off here. This kind of mobility is especially attractive in large cities where parking space is expensive and limited. However, the scenarios are diverse and highly complex. The revolutionary approach is being adopted by some traditional vehicle manufacturers as well as by competitors from the IT industry, among whom there is a very clear shift of emphasis from the mechanicals and the hardware to the software. At the same time, it is very important to have an understanding of the vehicle as a system as well as of issues such as safety, ruggedness, etc. For Daimler with car2go as the world’s largest carsharing company, this field is a highly attractive one.

    ' The focus is on robotaxis as well as autonomous carsharing vehicles. '

    Axel Gern, Head of Autonomous Driving, MBRDNA

    SO DAIMLER IS SIMULTANEOUSLY GOING DOWN BOTH THE EVOLUTIONARY AND THE REVOLUTIONARY PATHS.

    The company has realised that it needs to be successful in both areas. In Silicon Valley, our exclusive focus is on realising the disruptive approach, particularly in the inner-city area. The teams in Germany are responsible for the sensors, actuators and system integration in the vehicle. In Sunnyvale, we are working on the “intelligence of the system”, i. e. on sensor fusion, situation recognition and vehicle manoeuvering.

     

    WHAT IS SILICON VALLEY’S CONTRIBUTION?

    Silicon Valley is a special place where innovation, inventiveness, boldness and capital come together. Here, the training in areas such as Artificial Intelligence and robotics is excellent. Since September of this year, therefore, we have been cooperating with the Udacity online university on the development and structure of a nano degree programme. With the research subjects of deep learning, computer vision, robotics, position determination and sensor fusion, the programme prepares the students for a job as a Self-Driving Car Engineer. Our goal is to train good people to work in the field of autonomous driving.

    ' New technologies open the way to a host of additional possibilities for interaction between vehicle, passenger and environment. '

    HOW FAR HAS SITUATION ANALYSIS COME? A FAMOUS EXAMPLE IS THE OLD LADY AT THE ROUNDABOUT TOWARDS THE END OF THE BERTHA BENZ JOURNEY WHO WANTED TO WAVE THROUGH THE SELF-DRIVING S-CLASS, A GESTURE THE VEHICLE WAS UNABLE TO INTERPRET.

    As far as situation analysis and assessment for inner-city traffic is concerned, it is vital to recognise and appropriately respond to all possible situations. In some situations, such as the previously mentioned example, interaction with other road users is very important, as we have demonstrated with the F 015. New technologies and forms of communication open the way to a whole series of additional possibilities for interaction between vehicle, passenger and environment.

     

    The goal is to shape the relationship between human and car in such a way that the autonomous vehicle carries out those tasks the human is unwilling or unable to perform, such as permanent 360-degree all-round vision. The human, on the other hand, decides the speed at which the car should move or which is the more scenic route. This leads to the development of a new kind of “team relationship” between vehicle and driver that makes the human’s life easier. And, of course, detail-rich map systems form the basis for all self-driving vehicles. To this extent, our participation in the largest map-maker HERE is strategically very important.

     

    WHAT ROLE IS PLAYED BY THE MERCEDES-BENZ DRIVING SIMULATOR?

    In late 2010, Mercedes-Benz inaugurated the world’s most advanced “moving base” driving simulator in Sindelfingen. With its 360° screen, high-speed electric drive and 12-metre-long rail for longitudinal and transverse motion, it is the most powerful moving simulator in the automotive industry. It makes it possible to realistically simulate highly dynamic driving manoeuvres, such as changes of lane, and thus to intensively research the behaviour of driver and vehicle in road traffic. It is also safely possible to investigate the interaction between the autonomous system and the driver, e. g. when, in critical situations or on leaving the motorway, the task of driving reverts from the vehicle to the driver.

    ' Our goal is to train good people to work in the field of autonomous driving. '

    Related topics.

    The future is arriving at the i-Mobility 2016.

    Mercedes-Benz Reporter Torie takes a look into the future of mobility at the i-Mobility fair in Stuttgart. She explores the various E-Mobility systems and technology Mercedes-Benz is offering already. And while taking part in the i-Mobility Rallye with the B 250 e she finds out that the future is closer than we think. 

     

    B 250 e:

    combined CO₂ emissions: 0 g/km;

    Power consumption weighted: 17.9-16.6 kWh/100km.*

    The Remote Parking Pilot in the new E-Class.

    The Remote Parking Pilot allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of garages and parking spaces remotely using a smartphone app, enabling the occupants to get into and out of the car easily, even if space is very tight.

    The new E-Class on the road to autonomous driving.

    Thanks to the optional Driving Assistance package, the new E-Class is taking the next step on the road to autonomous driving. Here you can find out about the highlights of the DRIVE PILOT and gain an insight into the future functions of the system. The E-Class is the world’s first standard-production vehicle to be granted a test licence for autonomous driving in the state of Nevada in the USA where, for the first time and appropriately to coincide with the leading trade fair for entertainment electronics, the “CES” in Las Vegas, three E-Class models have been approved. Since the standard version is already comprehensively equipped with a host of intelligent technology, for test purposes only some slight software modifications need to be made to the DRIVE PILOT, which were implemented in the standard-fit Intelligent Drive Controller.