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Next-gen E-Class moves closer to full autonomy

New Mercedes-Benz E-Class is expected to launch in North America next spring

Published: July 9, 2015, 4:10 PM
Updated: July 14, 2015, 8:03 PM

2014 Mercedes-Benz E-Class

The next-generation Mercedes-Benz E-Class, which is expected to make its debut at the North American International Auto Show next January, will introduce several new advanced safety and driver-ssistance features, beyond those already available in the S-Class and C-Class.

Innovations in the new driver assistance package will enable semi-automated driving on freeways, highways and in city traffic, provide steering assistance o maneuver around obstacles, allow the car to be moved into and out of tight parking spaces from outside using a smartphone app and facilitate autonomous braking to mitigate dangerous situations.

Car-to-X Communication provides an early warning of dangers that lie ahead and new technology enables the smartphone to work as a vehicle key. Other new features can provide additional occupant protection in a side impact and even prepare their ears for the high noise level of the crash.

"We are taking a further major step along the road to autonomous and connected driving. The innovations that will be available for the future E-Class take safety, stress relief, and comfort to a new level," said Prof Dr Thomas Weber, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG,responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development.

Highlights of the Driver Assistance Package for the new E-Class include:

Intelligent Drive next Level:

This system is the next step along the road to autonomous driving. On highways and rural roads, it can not only keep the car at a specified distance behind slower vehicles ahead, it can follow them in their lane at speeds from 0-to-200 km/h.

While the previous generation tracked only the car in front, the new system can see where the swarm goes. Not only does it alleviate the driver's need to operate the brake or accelerator pedal during normal driving, it can also provide steering assistance – even in bends.

the system does not necessarily depend on clearly visible lane markings as it can also intervene actively if the lines on the road are unclear or even if there are no lines at all, at speeds up to 130 km/h.

In combination with COMAND Online, an optional Speed Limit Pilot sub-function also can autonomously adjust the vehicle's speed in response to camera-detected speed limits or speed limits logged in the navigation system.

Active Brake Assist:

The enhanced functionality of this system can warn the driver of imminent crash situations, provide just the right level of assistance in the event of sudden braking and also apply the brakes automatically in an emergency.

In addition to detecting slower-moving, stopping or stationary vehicles, it also detects and reacts to crossing traffic at junctions, the tail ends of traffic jams and pedestrians in the danger zone ahead of the vehicle.

Evasive Steering Assist:

This system complemens the pedestrian detection function of Active Brake Assist. When the driver deliberately or instinctively performs an evasive maneuver in a dangerous situation, this function assists by adding precisely calculated steering torque to support the input of the steering wheel.

This assistance helps the driver to avoid the pedestrian in a controlled manner while subsequently facilitating the straightening of the vehicle in order to pass safely.

Remote Parking Pilot:

For the first time, this system allows the vehicle to be moved into and out of parking spaces from outside using a smartphone app, allowing the occupants to get into and out of the car easily, even if space is very tight. (This feature will not be available in the North American market at the E-Class's launch next spring.)

Car-to-X Communication:

Introduced by Mercedes-Benz as a retrofit solution in 2013, this car-to-car networking system now enters series production  as a fully integrated Car-to-X capability.

The mobile phone-supported exchange of information with other vehicles further ahead, for example, can effectively allow the driver to see around corners or through obstacles, providing an early warning in the event of imminent danger, such as vehicle in a crash ahead.

Digital Car Key:

This remote authorization system uses Near Field Communication technology that allows the driver's smartphone to be used as a vehicle key.

PRE-SAFE Impulse Side:

This system complements the driver assistance package in the event that an unavoidable side collision is detected by rapidly inflating the air chambers in the backrest side bolsters to pre-emptively move the occupant sideways, away from the danger area. Increaseing the distance between the occupant and the door provides an additional level of protection.

PRE-SAFE Sound:

This new system is an industry first that it makes use of a natural reflex to protect the occupants' ears from the expected noise in the event of a possible collision.

The company says these new intelligent assistance and safety systems take Mercedes-Benz another step closer to its goal of accident-free and autonomous driving.