Bringing the future to the present: This is something Mercedes-Benz does perfectly. Because the inventor of the automobile has been shaping technological evolution in the entire industry for 40 years by developing pioneering digital assistance systems. This success story starts in 1978 with the introduction of digital technology in cars in the shape of the anti-lock braking system (ABS). Assistance systems have been redefining the partnership between driver and car ever since: the vehicle is able to support its driver increasingly comprehensively and increasingly intelligently.
40 years of assistance systems: Highlights
Four-wheeled partner: Digital technology found its way into the car in 1978 in the shape of the anti-lock braking system, marking the start of the partnership between vehicle and driver based on assistance systems. This partnership has gone from strength to strength ever since, with the introduction of ever more capable assistance systems.
Test winner: The Electronic Stability Program ESP® premiered in 1995 in the S-Class. It was introduced for the A-Class in 1998, which subsequently passed even the most extreme of tests with aplomb. Mercedes-Benz was the world’s first manufacturer to introduce ESP® as standard for all its model series. After this, the number of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars involved in road accidents with serious consequences fell by more than 42 percent according to accident statistics.
Skywatchers: Mercedes-Benz had already been working on car navigation systems for many years – with increasing success. The breakthrough came when permission was given for civilian applications to use the GPS satellite data. A collaboration with Robert Bosch GmbH resulted in the Auto Pilot System APS, which premiered in the S-Class in 1995.
Keeping your distance: DISTRONIC premiered in 1998. For the first time, the car was able to brake and accelerate for the driver in flowing traffic. To do this, it used radar to measure the distance to the vehicle in front. Today’s DISTRONIC PLUS offers a far wider range of functions.
On command: Increasingly extensive in-car systems require a human-machine interface that is both effective and intuitive to use. The solution introduced in 1998 was called Mercedes-Benz COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data System, 1998). In 2018 it is the Mercedes-Benz User Experience MBUX, an all-new multimedia system that creates an emotional bond between vehicle, driver and passengers. What’s more, it has the ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence.
Whole thing: The Integral Safety philosophy has been the focus intense debate at Mercedes-Benz since the turn of the millennium, particularly the linking of active and passive safety to create integral systems. The most important steps were PRE-SAFE® in 2002 and Intelligent Drive in 2013. In-house research delivered important findings for the development of the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system. This commitment by Mercedes-Benz since 1969 sets the benchmark in the industry.
Headed for the future: In 2013, the highly automated S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE research vehicle drove through cities and along country roads from Mannheim to Pforzheim, following the route taken by Bertha Benz in 1888. The development of autonomous driving, which began back in the 1980s with the PROMETHEUS programme and research at the University of the German Federal Armed Forces, started to gather pace, bringing it closer to production standard. In 2013, Intelligent Drive was also the name given to the new network of assistance systems in Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Park at the push of a button: The car has increasingly assisted the driver with parking since the introduction of the PARKTRONIC parking aid in 1995. Remote Parking Assist rounds off the process perfectly by enabling parallel and end-on parking by smartphone.
Global explorer: A test vehicle based on the S-Class spent five months on the road all over the world in 2017 and 2018 on the Intelligent World Drive. On this trip, the on-board systems learned how to deal with widely varying traffic conditions around the globe – an important step towards autonomous driving under extremely diverse conditions.
Future envoy: Never has the car been as competent as it is today. And never before has the compact-car segment offered as many digital assistance systems as in the new Mercedes-Benz A-Class from model series 177 (combined fuel consumption 7.4-4.1 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 169-107 g/km*): It features the latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support and thus offers the highest level of active safety in its segment with functions from S-Class model series 222 (combined fuel consumption 14.2-5.6 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions 325-149 g/km*). The A-Class can also drive semi-autonomously in certain situations for the first time.