Mercedes Reveal New Safety Tech for 2017 E-Class
Just last month in this column we talked about the advanced steering assist technology that Mercedes had planned for the 2017 E-Class, and since then the auto-maker has revealed a raft of new information about the advanced safety technology and autonomous driving features set to be included in next year’s model.
The new model is slated to be fully revealed at the Detroit Auto Show next January, but Mercedes released some early teasers at a technology briefing in Stuttgart earlier in July. There is still little information available about the powertrain, interior and exterior style, or chassis, but the new safety technology revealed this month will make the E-Class one of the most sophisticated cars on the road.
There are several new advances, which Mercedes have called Intelligent Drive next Level, ranging from tech to protect passengers’ hearing in the event of a crash, to an app which enables you to park the car remotely with a smartphone. Here’s a breakdown of some of the most exciting new features.
Remote Parking Pilot
Mercedes aren’t the only company working on remote parking systems, with both BMW and Jaguar Land Rover also recently revealing similar technologies. While the BMW works with the key fob, the Mercedes system works via a smartphone app which allows the driver to exit the vehicle and drive it remotely into and out of tight parking spaces.
The smartphone and the car key must both be within 10 feet of the car for the system to work and it allows the driver to park in parallel or perpendicular spaces. A smartphone can also work as a digital key using NFC (Near-Field Communication) technology, whereby the driver can unlock and lock the doors simply by holding the phone near the door handle.
The new E-Class will incorporate a full package of new Intelligent Drive technologies, including the new Steering Pilot we covered last month, which can now work at speeds of up to 81 mph (130 km/h) even if road or lane markings are unclear. The Distance Pilot Distronic System will keep the vehicle at a safe distance from the car in front at speeds of up to 124 mph (200 km/h), and the Speed Limit Pilot can autonomously adjust speed in response to speed limits detected by cameras or logged into the navigation system.
Brake and Steering Assist
The Active Brake Assist system has also received an upgrade which enables it to warn the driver of an imminent collision and apply braking assistance if necessary. It is also able to automatically apply emergency braking in dangerous situations, and can detect stationary vehicles, crossing traffic at intersections, pedestrians and traffic jams to pre-empt any braking assistance as necessary.
The Evasive Steering Assist is also designed to help in the instance of potential collisions, and can detect if the driver is making an evasive manoeuvre. The system uses precisely calculated steering torque to sense any sudden manoeuvres, and will assist with the movement of the steering wheel, as well as helping to straighten the vehicle to help the driver avoid an obstacle or pedestrian.
Mercedes first launched car-to-car communication in 2013, and the new E-Class will feature a fully integrated Car-to-X communication system. This technology enables information about the road ahead to be transmitted via a module with a SIM card inside the vehicle to Mercedes’ backend service. That information can then be relayed to the driver via a radio station or traffic alert system. By giving the driver constant updates about the road ahead, Mercedes say that the system ‘effectively allows the driver to see around corners or through obstacles.
Pre-Safe Collision Technology
There’s yet more technology built in to what will be the 5th generation E-Class, and the pre-safe tech revealed by Mercedes is designed to mitigate injury in the event of an accident. The Pre-Safe Impulse Side System is activated if an unavoidable collision is imminent; inflating the air chambers in the backrest side bolsters to move the front seat occupants sideways, away from the door.
The Pre-Safe Sound system is an intriguing piece of technology which is designed to protect the vehicle occupant’s ears and hearing from excessive noise in the event of an accident. According to Mercedes research, the stapedius muscle in the ear contracts when there is a loud noise, which give greater protection against high sound pressures. If an unavoidable collision is detected by the car’s sensors it will emit a sound within half a second which Mercedes say is similar to ‘pink noise’. This noise triggers the stapedius muscle which will contract and therefore lessen ear and hearing damage.
Perhaps one’s hearing might be the last thing on the mind in the event of a crash, but it shows the level of detail to which Mercedes is working when implementing new technologies. There is sure to be more news trickling out over the next few months before the official unveiling of the vehicle, with the auto-maker remaining tight-lipped about other innovations for the time being. We’ll be very interested to see what comes next.