“DIGITAL LIGHT”.

Future headlamp technology in HD quality.
DIGITAL LIGHT: The new HD headlamp generation from Mercedes-Benz, working in combination with the navigation system, can also project direction arrows onto the road surface.

Resolution of two million pixels.

For the Mercedes-Benz developers the future of car light lies in dazzle-free main beam in HD quality. The revolutionary headlamp technology shines with maximum performance and facilitates communication and pioneering driver assistance. The new HD headlamp generation from Mercedes-Benz features chips that work with over one million micromirrors, i. e. more than two million in total per vehicle. The intelligent control logic required for the dynamic light functions was developed by Mercedes-Benz itself. Algorithms receive detailed information about the surroundings from the vehicle sensors, and from it calculate in real time the brightness value for each one of over two million pixels.

Resolution of two million pixels.

For the Mercedes-Benz developers the future of car light lies in dazzle-free main beam in HD quality. The revolutionary headlamp technology shines with maximum performance and facilitates communication and pioneering driver assistance. The new HD headlamp generation from Mercedes-Benz features chips that work with over one million micromirrors, i. e. more than two million in total per vehicle. The intelligent control logic required for the dynamic light functions was developed by Mercedes-Benz itself. Algorithms receive detailed information about the surroundings from the vehicle sensors, and from it calculate in real time the brightness value for each one of over two million pixels.

DIGITAL LIGHT: The new HD headlamp generation from Mercedes-Benz, working in combination with the navigation system, can also project direction arrows onto the road surface.

DIGITAL LIGHT: Countless possibilities.

This dynamism and precision gives this intelligent system well-nigh countless possibilities to provide ideal, high-resolution light distribution which suits the surrounding conditions perfectly. “The decisive factor is not the technology in the headlamp but the digital intelligence behind it”, stresses Gunter Fischer, Head of Exterior Body Development and Vehicle Operating Systems at Daimler AG. The innovation was developed by Mercedes-Benz in collaboration with two partner companies and it is a good example of the internal cooperation between the Daimler research and the passenger car development on the road to mass production.

DIGITAL LIGHT: If the vehicle identifies pedestrians at the side of the road, the vehicle can project a zebra crossing onto the road surface as a signal to safely cross the road.
DIGITAL LIGHT: The new generation of HD headlamps can project high-resolution images onto the road surface.

Optimum vision and maximum brightness.

Sensors, such as cameras or radar, detect other road users and powerful computers evaluate the data as well as digital cards in milliseconds and give the headlamps the commands for adapting the light distribution in all situations. These efforts yield optimum vision for the driver without dazzling other road users as well as innovative functions with added safety. “With our ‘DIGITAL LIGHT’ strategy we are not striving for beam records, rather we want to achieve optimum vision and maximum brightness without glare. Innovative functions for supporting the driver and staging communication with other road users significantly optimise safety when driving at night,” emphasises Gunter Fischer.

Contributions towards traffic safety.

Mercedes-Benz does not only want to achieve the ideal light distribution for every driving situation with “DIGITAL LIGHT” but guide and support the driver in a targeted manner in critical situations such as driving through narrow roadworks. Additionally, it will be possible to project light traces onto the road to replace missing road markings. Moreover, digital light systems can also beam messages like direction arrows or warnings onto the road. Via “DIGITAL LIGHT” the car will also communicate with other road users in the future.

So symbols or a zebra crossing for pedestrians can be projected. “DIGITAL LIGHT” thus delivers important contributions towards traffic safety and modules on the road to accident-free and autonomous driving – as an integral component of the overall INTELLIGENT DRIVE strategy. What was unveiled in 2015 in the research vehicle F 015 as a vision has now been implemented in demo vehicles and will be on the road in the near future.

DIGITAL LIGHT: In narrow road construction lanes a line of light is projected onto the road surface which shows the vehicle width.

Video.

Related.

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.

      App-assisted parking.

      • 16. November 2016
      • Mobility Concept
      • Illustration: Adam Quest
      • Text: Walther Wuttke
      • Photo: Daimler

      Community-based parking in Stuttgart: as they drive by, vehicles collect information about free parking spaces and forward this on to other vehicles.

      The average vehicle spends most of its time standing idle – up to 23 hours a day, in fact. For this it needs space and anyone who manages to find some, especially in the city, can count themselves lucky. Having to search for one of the rare free spots at the side of the road is one of the unfortunate side effects of mass mobility. It leads to overcrowded roads in the city centre and stressed people behind the wheel.

      The hunt for a free and legally available piece of tarmac accounts for up to 40 percent of inner city traffic. This Sisyphus-like quest therefore also makes a significant contribution to urban pollution. At the same time, there are cars driving past empty parking spaces they don’t need. Another motorist in the vicinity would surely be extremely grateful for this information. Helping to match people with spaces is the goal of a new service currently being worked on by Bosch and Mercedes-Benz. It will be available at the beginning of next year.

       

      Sensors scan the roadside

      Behind the somewhat unwieldy term “Community-based parking” lies a concept where parking sensors inside the vehicles collect data about available spaces and share this information with those searching for a parking spot in the area. The sensors in the Mercedes that has been developed into a parking space-finding machine can scan the roadside at speeds of up to 55 km/h. The spaces detected are then identified as parking bays using data mining. This enables the system to differentiate between other spaces such as entrances and exits. The new service is currently still being tested in a pilot project in Stuttgart.

      The hunt for parking spaces accounts for up to 40 percent of inner city traffic.

      In the first development stage, the new service initially just lets the person looking for a space know the probability of being able to park in a particular road. This assistance will be offered early next year. The driver can then enter the relevant road into his sat-nav and set off in hope of success.

      In the first instance, the data will only be displayed on the Mercedes me app on the smartphone. “Here, the driver can find out how likely he is to be able to park his Mercedes in a free space close to his destination,” explained Marc Hagmeister from Mercedes me connect. “As a second step, we want to display the currently available parking spaces on the sat-nav screen.” This can also be used to report the number of spaces available in multi-storey car parks. During a short test drive on the outskirts of Stuttgart, the arrows jumping quickly to the left and right next to the “P-Symbol” in Hagmeister’s C-Class continually show free spaces. These are sent to the cloud for further processing before being forwarded from there to the smartphone app.

       

      “Almost all of our passenger cars at Mercedes-Benz are already smartly connected. If they are then also fitted with the relevant sensors, it is the next logical step for us to use this data, which is generated as you drive by, to quickly find parking spaces,” explains Sajjad Khan, Head of Digital Vehicle and Mobility at Mercedes-Benz. The data collected by the sensors is sent to Daimler servers where it is anonymised and forwarded to the Bosch cloud.

      ' It is the logical next step to use data generated as you drive by to quickly find parking spaces. '

      Sajjad Khan, Head of Digital Vehicle and Mobility at Mercedes-Benz

      Straight to a parking space

      Eventually, information on free parking spaces will be automatically sent to the car’s sat-nav via the app so that the driver is directed straight to an available bay, although this is still some way off yet. This will save on fuel and reduce environmental pollution. At present, there are different Mercedes models driving around Stuttgart, all working with Bosch to find free spaces. The sensors can identify all manner of parking spaces (parallel, perpendicular and angle), which the system then sorts accordingly.

       

      In the future, according to the developers, no more than a second should pass between finding a parking space and registering it. On a road driven by 10,000 cars a day, Hagmeister believes it will take just 20 cars to produce a complete map of the parking spaces. When the new service launches, it plans to initially contain data for 30 German towns and cities. Data for a total of 100 cities across Europe will also be stored to begin with.

       

      The service is currently restricted to communication between Mercedes models. However, in the future, the developers imagine that other makes will also be included in the communication loop. They can then be provided with extensive information about the parking situation, thereby helping to keep the environment safe and drivers calm.

      In the future, no more than a second should pass between finding a parking space and registering it.

      Related.

      Digital expert Gerd Leonhard in portrait, with a resolute yet friendly look.

      Gerd Leonhard: “Technology changes us as human beings.”

      Gerd Leonhard analyses how digitisation changes the economic and the living environment. An interview with the famous futurist.

      Musician, producer, future-shaper.

      Gerd Leonhard is one of the internationally leading futurists. He is known for his provocative yet inspiring presentations and theses on future developments. He spent 17 years in the U.S. where he experienced and shaped the digital future as a professional musician and producer, later as an digital entrepreneur. At the Van Innovation Campus by Mercedes-Benz in September he acted as keynote speaker. In this interview, he analyses the megatrends of the upcoming years – and the impact they will have on mobility and transport.

      Gerd Leonhard in the course of presenting on the stage of the Van Innovation Campus.
      Gerd Leonhard in the course of presenting on the stage of the Van Innovation Campus.

      Seeing the world through external eyes.

      Mister Leonhard, one of your theses is: “Mankind will change more significantly in the next 20 years than it did in the last 300.” Which changes do you mean specifically?

      Certainly, mankind has faced a lot of changes, upheavals and revolutions already – yet never before at such speed and in this complexity. Currently, there are roughly 20 topics and trends which will have a major impact on our lives. Among the most essential is artificial intelligence. This is no longer about using machines in order to make our work easier. Technology changes us as human beings. We are using external brains to do our thinking. We are using external eyes to see for us. We are using computers as conversation partners and give them orders. Automation, robotisation, virtualisation – all these things happen at the same time and in an exponential development. And they will bring along bigger changes than we can estimate today.

      Computers treating illnesses.

      In which areas of life will we feel the impact of these trends most strongly?

      Basically, you can assume that everything that can be digitised will be digitised. Computers will be able to learn. They will take care of things that before only people were capable of – for example recognising complex patterns or creating rules for irregular situations. In five to seven years, computers will have a bigger capacity than the human brain and they will solve certain problems better, faster and more efficiently than man could. They will diagnose and treat illnesses, they will manage traffic, improve environmental protection and a lot more.

      Illustration of a computer screen showing a cross as a symbol for a medical doctor, at the side, you can see small olive trees.
      The stage screens of a lecture during the Can Innovation Campus show the illustration of a networked city – the key term is “digitization”.

      Intelligent through networking.

      You already mentioned it: networking, digitisation and artificial intelligence have a major impact on traffic, thus on transport and mobility. What will the mobility of the future look like in your opinion?

      In roughly ten years, there will be approximately 380 cities with more than a million citizens. In order to meet the requirements of transportation in these urban centers, we must organise the transport of people and goods more intelligently, efficiently and sustainably. I am convinced, for example, that the traffic in these metropolises and metropole regions will be carried out by 95 percent automated vehicles.

      Intelligent through networking.

      You already mentioned it: networking, digitisation and artificial intelligence have a major impact on traffic, thus on transport and mobility. What will the mobility of the future look like in your opinion?

      In roughly ten years, there will be approximately 380 cities with more than a million citizens. In order to meet the requirements of transportation in these urban centers, we must organise the transport of people and goods more intelligently, efficiently and sustainably. I am convinced, for example, that the traffic in these metropolises and metropole regions will be carried out by 95 percent automated vehicles.

      The stage screens of a lecture during the Can Innovation Campus show the illustration of a networked city – the key term is “digitization”.

      Sport shoes? Just print them at home.

      Which solutions and impulses can technological innovations provide that go beyond autonomous driving?

      Many goods and parts will not need to be transported any longer. Already there are 3D printers by FedEx and UPS at many airports printing machine parts for airplanes. These printers are still too expensive for mass deployment – this will change in the next years. We will print many things simply at home or in the next shopping mall. On top of that, there are intelligent Shared-Mobility concepts and models already emerging in many places which smartly cross-connect street, rail and individual traffic with each other.

      The image shows different items which could come out of a 3D printer in this form: camera, pen, headphones, desk lamp.

      Holistic thinking is very important here. It is no longer simply a matter of transportation but a matter of developing perfect individual mobility services.

      A drone hovers over the stage in the context of the Van Innovation Campus.

      Customers want added value and service.

      What do these developments mean for the automotive and transport industry?

      They – as will all other industries – will have to stop thinking solely about core products but about offering individual services. They must offer their clients added values. In ten years, driving a car will not be what it is today – but a matter of mobility services fulfilling the individual needs of the customers. And many will be willing to pay more for certain kinds of services. Thus, holistic platform thinking is the profitable model of the future.

      Customers want added value and service.

      What do these developments mean for the automotive and transport industry?

      They – as will all other industries – will have to stop thinking solely about core products but about offering individual services. They must offer their clients added values. In ten years, driving a car will not be what it is today – but a matter of mobility services fulfilling the individual needs of the customers. And many will be willing to pay more for certain kinds of services. Thus, holistic platform thinking is the profitable model of the future.

      A drone hovers over the stage in the context of the Van Innovation Campus.

      When the car is booking the hotel.

      Which services could that be in practical terms?

      There are no limits to the imagination. In the transport industry, the topics will be speed and efficiency. With private customers, any number of motives might be considered. One person may want maximal comfort and ask for a hotel and a restaurant reservation on arrival without having to take care of it. Someone else might request optimal working conditions in the car. And the next one might like to have a car at their disposal whenever they need one without having to buy it, the keyword here is pay-per-use. It will be fascinating to watch which ideas emerge in that area – and which of them will catch on.

      The image shows the Concept Car “Mercedes-Benz F 015 Luxury in motion”, which could take over various tasks for the driver.

      Competition accelerates innovation.

      Your presentation at the Van Innovation Campus ended with a quote by David Bowie: “Tomorrow belongs to those who can hear it coming.” Are you under the impression that the automotive industry is hearing what tomorrow will bring?

      More so than others. In some industries, whether it be banks, insurances or the pharma industry, progressive thinking has not yet begun. And I am convinced that in these industries, many companies will not survive the change. In the automotive industry, things are different. Things that were regarded science fiction a few years ago have become a reality today, autonomous driving for example. In addition to that, new players enter the market. This changes the competition and increases the speed of innovations. Also, car manufacturers share the advantage that technology is their daily business – unlike in other industries. This is why the automotive industry is better prepared for the change and the challenges that come along with it.

      Video.

      Related.

      360° video “Concept EQ” – World Premiere at Paris Motor Show 2016.

      At the Paris Motor Show, Mercedes-Benz showed how electric cars can soon move into the fast lane. The concept vehicle “Concept EQ” with the appearance of a sporty SUV coupé gives a preview of a new generation of vehicles with battery-electric drives. The dynamic exterior design with its new electro-look underlines the focus on the powerful electric drive system: Two electric motors, with a system output that can be increased to up to 300 kW thanks to scalable battery components, and permanent all-wheel drive deliver the guarantee of dynamic high-level performance. With a range of up to 500 kilometres and the typical Mercedes strengths of safety, comfort, functionality and connectivity, “Concept EQ” meets every demand in terms of contemporary, sustainable mobility.