With its 360° screen, fast electric power system and the twelve metre-long rail for transverse or longitudinal movements, the new dynamic driving simulator from Mercedes-Benz is the most powerful in the entire car industry. It went into operation at the end of 2010.
"With the new simulator, we are able to reproduce highly dynamic driving manoeuvres such as lane-changing even more realistically and to research the behaviour of the driver and the vehicle in road traffic in even greater depth," explains Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars. The system is not intended to replace real test drives entirely. The simulator will enable systems and components for future Mercedes models to be tested throughout all development phases, however. The new Mercedes B‑Class was one of the first models to receive its final fine-tuning in the new driving simulator prior to the real test drives.
The driving simulator is additionally used to conduct tests with test subjects. During these, normal car drivers are able to approach the physical limits with no danger, providing the Mercedes engineers with findings concerning the acceptance and operation of new safety systems, such as radar-based COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST with adaptive Brake Assist in the new B-Class.
How the simulator works
The simulator cell is a hexapod mounted on six moveable supports. 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 scenario, 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 double lane-changes can also be simulated, for example.
Equally high-tech: part of the energy required to operate the simulator is obtained by means of energy recuperation during braking and fed into the power network of the Sindelfingen plant.
Mercedes-Benz has been playing a pioneering role in the use of simulators for a long time. The first driving simulator, an in-house development, was commissioned at the Daimler-Benz research centre in Berlin-Marienfelde over 25 years ago.