Dr. Jörg Breuer (46) studied mechanical engineering at the Technische
Universität Darmstadt and the ETH Zürich, receiving his PhD in 1995 for his thesis "Ergonomic assessment and design of safety in the motor vehicle control system". Breuer, who comes from Aachen, has worked for Daimler AG since July 1996 and has been in charge of the company's Active Safety department since 2001. He is also a member of numerous auto industry safety committees, such as the "ACEA Task Force Active Safety" and the e-Safety "Implementation Roadmap" working group.
Other manufacturers already have brake assistance systems for urban driving. How does the Mercedes-Benz radar-based collision warning system differ from these?
Breuer: COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST is not a system to minimise minor damage in an urban driving context. Instead, this assistance system aims to provide protection against typical rear-end collisions at speeds above 30 km/h.
You mean that's the relevant speed range – the hazardous situations that can lead to rear-end collisions usually occur above 30 km/h?
Breuer: Yes, that's shown by our field tests, in which we've covered over 4.5 million kilometres in Europe, the US, Japan and South Africa since 2005. And this speed profile is also confirmed by the real-world accident data from GIDAS, the largest project to record accident data in Germany.
The new compact class vehicles from Mercedes-Benz are equipped with
COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST as standard. What effect are you hoping this will have on accident figures and accident severity?
Breuer: We expect COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST to have a positive effect on real-world accidents similar to that seen following the introduction of ESP® as standard. This is backed up by initial test results. Tests involving 110 car drivers in the dynamic simulator saw the accident rate fall from 44 to 11 percent in three typical situations thanks to the combination of collision warning and adaptive braking assistance.
COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST gives a warning and adjusts the braking force as required, but unlike the optional DISTRONIC PLUS it does not initiate braking autonomously. Is that a disadvantage?
Breuer: Our tests show that, with DISTRONIC PLUS, almost all drivers react to the collision warning and initiate braking themselves. The advantage of DISTRONIC PLUS is the comfort and convenience it provides by automatically adjusting the speed and therefore also the distance to the vehicle ahead.
COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST is only one of many driving assistance systems available for the A-Class. What are the other highlights?
Breuer: In all, ten driving assistance systems are available. Reserved until
now for higher vehicle categories, they include systems such as ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsy driving, and the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system. This can really be described as the democratisation of safety.
Democratisation of safety means that safety innovations from higher vehicle
segments find their way into the medium and compact class. Does it also mean that the A-Class has passed the brand's own rigorous crash tests despite its compact exterior dimensions?
Breuer: Yes, "One star is all you need" is our safety philosophy and it goes without saying that it also applies to the A-Class. My colleagues in the Passive Safety department have done a great job here and achieved their objective: the A-Class has passed the brand's rigorous test programme. This includes not only some 30 different impact configurations, which are laid down as requirements for safety ratings and international type approval, but also nine proprietary crash tests, such as the roof-drop test or the pole impact test, developed by the brand itself.