Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars, ceremoniously opened the Daimler AG driving simulator in Sindelfingen in October 2010. As a safety pioneer Mercedes-Benz set a milestone in the expansion of the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center.
Nowhere in the world of automobile production are research, development, design, planning and production so directly intermeshed as at the location in Sindelfingen.
With its 360° screen, fast electric power system and a twelve-metre long rail for transverse movements, the dynamic simulator is the most advanced in the automobile industry. As an equally advanced feature, part of the energy required to drive the simulator is obtained by means of energy recuperation when braking, and fed into the power network of the Sindelfingen plant.
Even if the driving simulator is not able or intended to replace real test drives completely, the simulator makes it possible to test the systems and components of future Mercedes models in all development phases.
The simulator cell is a hexapod mounted on six moveable supporting legs. Inside there is a complete Mercedes model in which the test driver is seated, as well as the 360° projection screen showing a realistic image of the traffic scene, with moving pedestrians, oncoming traffic and houses.
The vehicle controls are linked to the computerised control system of the driving simulator by data lines. When the test driver turns the steering wheel, accelerates or operates the brakes, these reactions are registered by the computer control system and have the same effects as in real traffic situations. The scenery on the screen changes constantly, and the moving cell simulates the vehicle's attitude on the road, for example front-end dive when braking or body roll during fast cornering.
The computer calculates the driving behaviour of the car more than 1000 times per second, issuing the relevant commands to the electrics. It is able to move the cell transversely by up to twelve metres at a maximum speed of ten metres per second (36 km/h), so that e.g. double lane-changes can also be simulated.