Our Road to Accident-free Driving. Vehicle safety has always been one of our brand attributes. Our engineers have consistently been ahead of their time when it comes to the development of new safety technologies. Our Road to Accident-free Driving strategy continues to motivate us to make mobility as safe as possible for all road users.
This strategy encompasses four areas of action:
- Prevention: Avoiding accidents is our prime objective. To make road traffic safe, we do not leave drivers on their own when they get behind the steering wheel. Active safety technologies that are designed to counter frequent causes of accidents help and support drivers perform their tasks. These systems continuously check the motorist’s physiological condition, scan the vehicle’s surroundings, and provide stability during dynamic driving.
- Response: Our key response system is PRE-SAFE®, which synergistically combines active and passive safety measures. With the help of sensors from vehicle safety systems such as ESP and Brake Assist, PRE-SAFE® can recognize dangerous situations early on in order to warn the driver and prepare the vehicle for an impending accident.
- Protection: Daimler conducts a large number of different crash tests that go far beyond meeting legal requirements. When developing our safety systems, we also draw on data produced during more than 40 years of our own accident research. These developments also benefit road freight traffic safety, as demonstrated by an underride guard for trucks, for example. Moreover, many innovations that were first used in Daimler vehicles (e.g. airbags, the ABS anti-lock braking system, and ESP) have now become standard features in the automotive industry.
- Rescue: Whenever there is an accident, the first priority is to quickly rescue vehicle occupants so that the accident’s consequences can be kept to a minimum. We therefore assist rescue workers by providing them with online rescue guidelines and rescue data sheets for our cars and commercial vehicles. These guidelines and data sheets show the rescue workers how to stabilize the vehicles and extract the occupants quickly and safely.
Mercedes-Benz safety research aims to avoid accidents and minimize the consequences of those that do occur. To make this possible, we orient ourselves on real-life safety situations, using a development philosophy based on real-life accidents and their causes. In doing so, we always want to make sure that drivers can travel stress-free and maintain their full ability to concentrate. To help make this possible, we offer comfort-oriented springs and seats, a low-noise environment, effective headlights and windshield wipers, and a simple and safe system of operation. Should drivers nevertheless get into critical situations, our safety systems will help them deal with the danger as effectively as possible.
Taking curves safely. With its pioneering innovations, Daimler has been improving vehicle safety for many decades. The latest of these developments is the ACTIVE CURVE SYSTEM. In the third-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class introduced in 2011, the safety system ensures smooth driving around curves, thus delivering greater agility, more driving fun, and significantly increased safety, especially at high speeds. Hydraulically operated cross-stabilizers on the front and rear axles balance out the roll angle generated by the driving speed and curve radius when the vehicle is going around a curve. The regulation of the cross-stabilizers is adjusted to the current driving conditions. As a result, the system provides a high degree of stability during highway driving and enables better axle articulation when driving at low speeds in rugged terrain.
Innovative safety systems in the compact segment. PRE-SAFE® celebrated its premiere in the S-Class in 2002, and now it’s also available in the new B-Class. This anticipatory occupant protection system from Mercedes-Benz is thus entering the compact vehicle segment. In the new model series, it comprises safety functions such as closing the side windows and the sunroof in critical situations where high lateral dynamics are generated, reversible tensioning of the seatbelts, and automatically adjusting the power passenger seat with a memory function.
A further innovative assistance system in the new B-Class is COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST. This radar-based system draws the driver’s attention to an impending rear-end collision. In Germany, rear-end collisions cause about 22 percent of traffic accidents involving injuries or fatalities. In the U.S., rear-collisions even account for 31 percent of such traffic accidents. The use of COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST substantially reduces the risk of an accident, as demonstrated by driving simulator tests with 110 motorists.
Using radar, the system measures the distance to the vehicle up ahead and identifies situations where there is a risk of collision. On the basis of the calculated moment of impact, it activates visual and acoustic warning signals. At the same time, the system prepares the brakes to decelerate the vehicle to the degree required. If the driver reacts to the warning by forcefully stepping on the brakes, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST automatically makes the optimal braking power available. If the driver of the vehicle up ahead speeds up during the braking maneuver, the system reduces the braking deceleration. In the new B-Class, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST operates in a wide range of speeds, extending from 30 to 250 km/h. This is an advantage compared to other brake assist systems for this class of vehicle, which only operate in a more restricted speed range.
Active engine hood protects pedestrians. If a traffic situation becomes critical and leads to an accident, it is essential that more vulnerable road users in particular do not suffer serious consequences. As a result, vehicles such as the new Mercedes-Benz M-Class of 2011 are equipped with an active engine hood that protects pedestrians and cyclists during collisions. As soon as the sensors in the front section of the vehicle register a collision with a pedestrian, the system raises the rear of the hood within a fraction of a second in order to provide more room for deformation. The improved packaging of the components in the engine compartment also creates room that can have life-saving consequences during a collision.
Sophisticated simulation technology
To enable us to further improve occupant safety even after more than 60 years of intense development work, the engineers at Mercedes-Benz continuously enhance the computer simulation system. That allows us to virtually test vehicles and discover possible improvements long before actual crash tests are carried out. As a result, the number of computer-simulated crash tests at Mercedes-Benz has risen from around 200 per year in the early 1990s to more than 50,000 per year today. However, it’s not just the number of tests that has increased, but also the complexity of the computer models. Whereas the model of the W 201, the predecessor of the C-Class from the 1980s, consisted of 25,000 elements, the digital representation of the current C-Class encompasses around two million elements.
In 1985 Mercedes-Benz put its first independently developed driving simulator into operation at the research center in Berlin-Marienfelde. The technology has been continuously enhanced over the past 25 years in order to make the simulations more and more realistic. Daimler’s latest driving simulator was recently put into operation in Sindelfingen. It consists of a complete vehicle in a simulator cabin that is surrounded by a 360-degree projection wall. The cabin is mounted on six movable “legs” which enable it to move freely and change its position within the room. In addition, the system can be shifted back and forth along a rail. This enables the system to simulate the dynamism of driving across several lanes along a path of 12 meters and at speeds of up to 10 meters per second (36 km/h). The new driving simulator can also be used early on in the product creation process in order to evaluate and optimize aspects such as visibility, handling, and the warning and assistance systems. The system also allows tests to be conducted with motorists who have no prior technical skills in order to determine how such drivers and their vehicles behave under extreme physical conditions.
Mercedes-Benz safety systems regularly receive national and international awards. In January 2011, for example, Belgian automotive journalists presented Mercedes-Benz with the FuturAuto Award in recognition of the contribution made by Active Brake Assist 2 to traffic safety. Active Brake Assist 2 warns truck drivers of impending rear-end collisions and can independently initiate emergency braking if an accident becomes unavoidable.
In 2011 Mercedes-Benz also won the ADAC automotive association’s Yellow Angel award in the “Innovation and Environment” category for its Active Lane Keeping Assist and Active Blind Spot Assist system. The system was first presented in the Mercedes-Benz CL in 2010 and subsequently introduced in other production series. If the driver accidentally crosses the demarcation lines to the left or right of the lane, the Active Lane Keeping Assist system sends a warning to the instrument cluster and causes the steering wheel to vibrate. If necessary, the ESP system will brake the wheels on one side of the vehicle in order to bring it back into the proper lane. Active Blind Spot Assist warns the driver when it detects the risk of a collision in the course of a lane change. If the driver ignores this warning, the system will brake the wheels on one side of the vehicle in order to avert the danger.
Euro NCAP has awarded its best rating of five stars to the new M-Class, the new B-Class, and the C-Class Sports Coupé.
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