Mercedes-Benz’s redesigned E-class sedan will be getting “real life safety” features as well as autonomous driving technology. Slated to arrive next spring, the fifth-generation E class will come with intelligent and safety systems that bring the brand a step closer to achieving autonomous driving that’s accident-free.
The E class, which will be available in the U.S., is equipped with technologies that were launched on the redesigned S-class sedan in the fall of 2013. The E class is ranked third in the U.S. The top two model lines of the brand in the U.S. are the C class and the M class. The company refers to the latest safety technologies as the “Intelligent Drive next Level.”
It consists of systems that protect the passengers’ ears and hearing in a crash, safety protection that keeps the driver and front-seat occupant away from the doors in a side impact, and steering aid to avoid an obstacle or accident. Furthermore, the company is presenting a smartphone key and technology to enable the driver to park the vehicle in parallel and perpendicular spaces with the use of a smartphone.
Thomas Weber, who leads Mercedes-Benz Cars research and development, said that the brand is taking the next big step in autonomous and connected driving. He believes that with these innovations, the E-class offers next-level safety, comfort, and stress relief. He added that the brand aims to emphasize its current status as a “safety pioneer.”
What makes these new systems ground-breaking is that they can be upgraded as technology moves forward, according to Michael Hafner, director of advanced drive assistance systems and active safety for Mercedes-Benz. This is something that no other company presently offers. He shared that the design for this new architecture is an open system that can integrate developments and innovations that may come in the future.
This includes developments in autonomous driving. He added that the “central nervous system” allows for continuing optimizations with the latest assistance and safety technology. As a result, the vehicle may be upgraded at any point in its lifecycle. Hafner also said that the brand has come up with improved sensors and functionalities of its cameras and radar.
The Driver Assistance Package for the next-generation E-class has several amazing systems.
The first is an updated Intelligent Drive package. The car is able to automatically keep a safe distance from the car in the front, offering steering assistance when going around a bend and even braking. The car does this with the use of the Distance Pilot Distronic system and at speeds as fast as 124 mph (200 km/h). Its predecessor could only track the car in front but the new system is able to detect “where the swarm goes.” The car is even able to read road markings with the use of new stereo cameras at the back of the windshield as well as new radar sensors. Steering Pilot can function at speeds up to 81 mph (130 km/h) and even when the markings on the road are not clear. The system previously ran only at speeds slower than 50 mph (80 km/h).
The second is Speed Limit Pilot, which works alongside the car’s communications and entertainment system. The vehicle’s speed may be autonomously adjusted based on the speed limits that are detected by the camera or that are recorded in the navigation system.
Then there’s the updated Active Brake Assist, which informs the driver of an impending crash, providing braking assistance if it is needed immediately. It may even automatically activate the brakes during an emergency. This system is able to detect vehicles that are stationary or have stopped, pedestrians, those that are crossing intersections, and the tail end of a traffic jam.
The fourth is the Evasive Steering Assist, a new system that activates “precisely calculated steering torque” if it senses that a driver has made an evasive maneuver. This feature aids in moving the steering wheel so the pedestrian can be avoided. It also straightens the vehicle so it can cross safely.
Remote Parking Pilot moves the vehicle in and out of tight spaces with the use of a smartphone app. The smartphone just has to be within 10 feet of the vehicle and the driver has to have the car key for the remote system to work. The app requires the driver’s approval to move the car. It becomes much easier to park the car in a parallel or perpendicular space as well as in and out of tight garages.
The Car-to-X Communication has now been fully integrated in the car. Mercedes-Benz was actually the first automaker to introduce car-to-car networking in 2013. Information about road conditions may be transmitted from a module with a SIM card in the vehicle to Daimler’s backend service. This information may then be transmitted to a traffic alert system or to a radio system.
The Digital Car Key makes use of the driver’s smartphone as a vehicle key. What the driver only needs to do is hold the phone near the door handle. The smartphone can also be used for personal options like seat and mirror settings. Near-field communication technology is used by this system. This allows the exchange of data via radio signals over a short distance.
The Pre-Safe Impulse Side is useful if a side collision can’t be avoided. It rapidly inflates the air chambers in the backrest side bolsters, pushing the front-seat occupants towards the side and away from the door.
Pre-Safe Sound protects occupants’ ears from the loud noise of a collision. The company said that the stapedius muscle in ears contracts when noise is heard, providing “greater protection against high sound pressures.”