Easy Tech: DISTRONIC

01_einfach_Technik_Distronic

The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC

05.20 pm. Rush hour traffic. Three lanes change into two. A pushy driver on the left, merging cars from the right. Every now and then a driver who constantly switches lanes to reach home even faster. Flickering brake lights. Chances are high to crash into the front car’s bumper if you don’t fully concentrate on traffic. Exhausting! May I get some assistance, please?!

Sure. With the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC. “Whatever our eyes do not recognize is detected by the car’s sensor system. While we are still thinking and maybe even hesitating, the system already hits the brakes.“, explains Verena Hesse. She is a system developer at Mercedes-Benz Cars and jointly responsible for making driving assistance systems like DISTRONIC even more intelligent. And our ride through rush hour traffic more comfortable.

We met at the testing and technology center in Immendingen to experience DISTRONIC as part of the latest Driving Assistance Package with the Mercedes-Benz EQC (electricity consumption combined: 21.3 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km)*. Unbelievable how much intelligence is available in just one car!

DISTRONIC: How does it work?

The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is available in the Driving Assistance Package and makes driving easier by adjusting the distance to vehicles ahead. Within a speed range of 0 to 210 km/h, the intelligent assistance system brakes and accelerates automatically. “DISTRONIC is activated with the multifunction steering wheel by setting the speed.”, explains Verena Hesse.

“As soon as a slower-moving vehicle ahead is recognized, DISTRONIC adjusts the speed automatically and keeps the distance selected.“ The driver can individually choose between four different distance levels. Particularly comfortable: even if the vehicle in front stops, DISTRONIC can brake to a standstill and then accelerates back up to the set speed. But there is even more to it than that.

The driver can choose between four different distance levels. DISTRONIC automatically controls the speed and maintains the selected distance.
The driver can choose between four different distance levels. DISTRONIC automatically controls the speed and maintains the selected distance.
This not only makes the journey more comfortable, but also safer. Because DISTRONIC can brake to a standstill.
This not only makes the journey more comfortable, but also safer. Because DISTRONIC can brake to a standstill.
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More assistance features: guidance with the Active Speed Limit Assist

Overlooking a speed limit by mistake has probably happened to most of us. But this may not only cause an expensive speed ticket. It also endangers us and others. That’s why the Active Speed Limit Assist detects speed limits via camera and navigation and adjusts the set speed automatically. Verena Hesse explains: “If provided by the navigation system, even general speed limits can be detected – such as 50 km/h in built-up areas and 100 km/h on country roads in Germany. The Active Speed Limit Assist reduces the speed predictively when approaching a town.“

Relief in road traffic & traffic jams: the Route-Based Speed Adaption

Maximum comfort is provided by the Route-Based Speed Adaption, which takes account of upcoming route features such as bends, T-junctions, roundabouts, or tollbooths and adjusts the speed automatically. Depending on the selected driving program, the vehicle negotiates upcoming route features with the emphasis on efficiency (ECO), comfort (COMFORT), or dynamics (SPORT). Afterwards, the vehicle accelerates back up to the set speed.

With this feature, the vehicle can also recognize traffic jams or slow-moving traffic based on information by Live Traffic. “The End of Traffic Jam Function reduces the speed to approx. 100 km/h if a traffic jam is detected and the driver does not specifically decide otherwise.“, explains Verena Hesse. “A real safety benefit in risky situations. Especially when you keep in mind how many traffic jams end behind bends.” Another feature is the ability of the vehicle to move off on the motorway automatically within up to 30 seconds after coming to a standstill, and accelerating as soon as the traffic jam is over.

The Active Speed Limit Assist detects speed limits.
The Active Speed Limit Assist detects speed limits.
DISTRONIC automatically adopts the detected speed limit.
DISTRONIC automatically adopts the detected speed limit.
The route-based speed adaption...
The route-based speed adaption...
... and DISTRONIC automatically adopts the detected speed limit.
... and DISTRONIC automatically adopts the detected speed limit.
For example in roundabouts, curves and T-junctions.
For example in roundabouts, curves and T-junctions.
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Off track? Support by the Active Steering Assist

In this case, we exceptionally want to go with the flow: because, depending on the specific situation, the Active Steering Assist is able to rely on surrounding vehicles. This supports the driver and is especially comfortable when lane markings are not clearly visible.

The Active Steering Assist also helps to form an emergency corridor in traffic jams on motorways. And the Active Emergency Stop Assist is able to brake a Mercedes-Benz to a standstill if it does not detect any reactions from the driver despite visual and audible prompts. At speeds below 60 km/h, the following traffic is warned with hazard lights and as soon as the vehicle comes to a halt, it is unlocked for first-aiders. A real safety feature.

What is the source of the vehicle’s intelligence?

“The Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC as part of the Driving Assistance Package is a system based on radar and camera.“, explains Verena Hesse. “The most important sensor for the distance control is the long-range radar, which is located behind the Mercedes star and detects vehicles ahead.“ It has a range of up to 250 meters and an opening angle of about 20 degrees (the medium-range detection has a range of up to 70 meters and an opening angle of about 90 degrees).

Behind the windscreen near the rear-view mirror, a Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera (in short: Stereo Camera) is positioned. It has an opening angle of about 50 degrees and is capable of spacial detection. The Stereo Camera thus detects objects and pedestrians moving crossways. Verena Hesse explains that it’s called Stereo Camera “because of its two “eyes” providing it with a three-dimensional view within an area of up to approx. 90 meters in front of the vehicle.” Thereby, it provides data e.g. for the Active Speed Limit Assist and the Active Steering Assist.

The sensor system also includes two multi-mode radars at the rear with a range of up to 80 and 40 meters and an opening angle of 30 and 140 degrees. They provide important information for the Active Blind Spot Assist.

The long-range radar is the most important sensor for distance control...
The long-range radar is the most important sensor for distance control...
... and the stereo camera can detect crossing objects and pedestrians with its three-dimensional view..
... and the stereo camera can detect crossing objects and pedestrians with its three-dimensional view..
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What’s crucial for the vehicle’s intelligence is the so-called sensor fusion: the merging of the data provided by the radar sensors and the camera. The data is merged in a control unit in order to provide the various driving assistance systems with the relevant data. That’s how vehicles ahead, crossing, approaching from the rear and even from the front, as well as pedestrians, road markings and a variety of traffic signs can be detected within a large field of vision.

Besides radar and camera, the navigation’s card data provides relevant information e.g. for the Route-Based Speed Adaption such as city boundaries, street type (country road, motorway) and route features.

“The sensor fusion is what basically makes DISTRONIC intelligent“, explains Verena Hesse, „and provides us with a sharp and always attentive co-driver.“ Aside from safety, a great relief for drivers in the sometimes chaotic rush hour traffic. DISTRONIC, you may assist me!

*Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration.

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Einfach Technik / Easy Tech

Many have us have become used to them in everyday traffic: cameras, sensors and other technical assistants recognize and evaluate situations, making our journey safer and more comfortable. But how do all these safety, assistance, and comfort systems interact? And how do they actually work? With Easy Tech, we provide the answers to these and similar questions. Our assitants: the company’s tech experts. Easy Tech is edited by Vivienne Brando, she is looking forward to your questions and suggestions send to magazin_dialog@daimler.com.

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