When computers, cameras, and sensors work together to become the chauffeur.
Mercedes-Benz will soon take the wraps off its revised S-Class flagship, a car set to become the brand’s most technologically advanced model with an upgraded array of safety and assistance systems. The company says its updated range topper represents an important step in the road to fully autonomous driving. With so many hardware and software aids, the 2018 S-Class’ computers will take control of the car in more situations than ever.
Active Lane Change Assist
At speeds from 50 to 112 mph, the driver will be assisted whenever changing lanes on a multi-lane road. The driver will only have to nudge the indicator stalk and then — within 10 seconds — all of the onboard sensors will check whether it’s safe to perform the manoeuvre by assessing the speed of other nearby cars. If the computers detect it’s safe to change lanes, the driver is going to be assisted throughout the process.
Active Lane Keeping Assist
The steering wheel begins to pulsate at speeds between 37 and 124 mph when the sensors detect the S-Class is unintentionally exiting the lane. The system actually does more than that as it can steer the car back in the lane and apply the brakes after going over a continuous line. In the case of a broken line, it will do the same only when it’s going to detect the risk of a collision with the car from the other lane.
Active Speed Limit Assist
By being able to read sign gantries and roadworks signs, the car will automatically adjust the speed. The system will also rely on the data provided by the navigation system to identify and modify the speed based on the applicable speed limits. When driven on unrestricted sections of the Autobahn in Germany, the top speed limit will be automatically set at 81 mph. Needless to say, the driver will have the possibility of modifying the limiter in order to reach higher speeds.
Traffic Sign Assist
Using image recognition and data sourced from the navigation, the system can notify the driver of the permitted maximum speed on the selected route. It also provides information about any overtaking restrictions and speed limits in wet conditions. Moreover, it can also spot no-entry signs, speed limits for trucks, and people on a zebra crossing. Visual and audible warnings are issued, depending on the situation.
Active Distance Assist Distronic
The S-Class’ highly advanced cruise control will be smart enough to predictably diminish speed based on what’s up ahead, such as junctions, roundabouts, toll booths, and bends. After that, the speed will automatically increase back up. Working together with the navigation, the system will also kick in whenever it is going to be in the slow lane approaching a motorway exit.
Mercedes mentions automated driving for an extended period on country roads will be possible with the 2018 S-Class and mentions the Distronic cruise control system will also take into account coasting and even gliding (coasting with the engine off) for cars with engines capable of supporting it.
It will also be able to follow the vehicle up ahead in stop-and-go traffic on motorways and other similar roads, with stops of up to 30 seconds now possible for the first time. During this interval, the S-Class will drive itself and follow the car in front of it.
Active Emergency Stop Assist
As the name of the system implies, the S-Class automatically comes to a stop once the onboard sensors detect the driver is not paying attention to the road and is not responding to the visual and audio warnings. In addition, the hazard warning lamps will be activated at speeds below 37 mph and the car will reduce speed and eventually come to a full stop. Once it comes to a complete halt, the parking brake is engaged, the emergency call system is turned on, and the doors are opened.
Active Brake Assist
It helps the driver avoid an imminent collision with vehicles or people that are up ahead. It does so by turning on a warning lamp in the instrument cluster whenever the distance from whatever is in front is not big enough. If there’s actually a collision risk, an audible warning is issued. After that, the autonomous emergency braking system is automatically activated. The driver also receives braking assistance right after hitting the brakes.
Evasive Steering Assist
Just like Active Brake Assist, the Evasive Steering Assist system provides further assistance to avoid a crash. It helps the driver perform an evasive action whenever pedestrians are identified in the danger zone by applying extra steering torque in the direction the driver is performing the evasive manoeuvre.
Active Blind Spot Assist
It works from 6 to 124 mph by issuing visual and audible warnings after detecting danger of side collisions with other vehicles once the driver uses the indicator. The system can also trigger the brakes, but only when the car is doing more than 19 mph.
Active Parking Assist & Remote Parking Assist
The owner of an S-Class will receive assistance whenever parking it, and will also be alerted by the Blind Spot Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert systems of any dangers while reversing. If necessary, autonomous braking will be activated to avoid a collision.
To avoid the hassle of having to park the car on your own, the 2018 S-Class will benefit from remote parking functionality by simply using a smartphone to do all the work for you. It can autonomously manoeuvre in both forward and reverse directions by up to 15 meters and avoid obstacles in the process.
Lastly, the driver gets a heads up whenever approaching a dangerous area marked by another Car-to‑X user. These early warnings are shown on the map and there’s even an audible warning in some cases when the driver is getting closer to the hazard.
Mercedes will unveil the S-Class facelift in full on April 18, prior to the car’s public debut a day later at Auto Shanghai 2017. Sales will begin this autumn.