Improved safety through vehicle-to-vehicle communication and monitoring of vehicle surroundings
Research geared toward safe and stress-free driving
myCOMAND — the world’s first Internet-based in-vehicle infotainment system
The 15th World Congress on Intelligent Transport Systems (ITS) will take place in New York from November 16 to 20, 2008. Mercedes-Benz, one of the biggest sponsors of the World Congress, will present the driver assistance systems of the future at the event. “Mercedes-Benz vehicles have been considered the safest and most comfortable in the world from the very beginning,” says Prof. Bharat Balasubramanian, Vice President Group Research & Advanced Engineering E/E, Processes and IT at Mercedes-Benz. “In order to demonstrate that this will remain the case in the future, we will present to ITS World Congress visitors interesting exhibits that offer a preview of the vehicle functions of the future.”
The Mercedes-Benz stand at the ITS will highlight vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure communication systems, technologies for monitoring vehicle surroundings, and systems for measuring driver stress. Mercedes-Benz will also use the occasion of the ITS to unveil myCOMAND — the completely Internet-based in-vehicle infotainment system of the future.
With some 10,000 international participants, the ITS World Congress is the world’s biggest exhibition of state-of-the-art information and communication technologies for automotive applications.
Improved safety through vehicle-to-vehicle communication
In the U.S., approximately 2.5 million people were injured in traffic accidents in 2007. The number of people killed was around 40,000. To help significantly reduce these figures, researchers and developers at Mercedes-Benz are supporting the Vehicle Infrastructure Integration (VII) initiative, which tests concepts for vehicle-to-vehicle communication as well as communication between vehicles and transmission/receiving stations along a route.
The technical basis for VII is provided by dedicated short-range communication (DSRC) technology, which enables vehicles to communicate with each other and their surrounding environment. Information obtained via DSRC can make drivers more attentive and enable dangerous situations to be recognized, and, in the ideal case, avoided.
Mercedes-Benz is taking advantage of the ITS World Congress to present for the first time a combination of its driver assistance functions and DSRC technology in the form of an experimental brake assist system for use at traffic lights.
Preventing the unintentional running of red lights
If a vehicle equipped with the new system approaches a VII-enabled traffic light and the system’s camera-based traffic light recognition unit registers that the light is red, the vehicle receives a DSRC signal containing information on the current state of the light. If the driver continues on toward the red light, he or she is warned by a beep and a symbol on the dashboard display, which give the driver enough time to brake the vehicle before it runs the light. Should the driver fail to react, the next acoustic and visual warning stage is engaged, which still allows the driver enough time to avoid running the light, although harder braking will now be required. If the driver still doesn’t respond, the vehicle itself initiates an autonomous emergency braking maneuver, whereby the driver can still overrule the system at any time.
The combination of a camera-based recognition feature and DSRC makes the system robust and immune to erroneous information. The braking maneuver is engaged only if the camera and the DSRC system have both determined the presence of a red traffic light. Such redundancy makes for greater safety and prevents the system from being triggered by mistake.
Improved safety due to relaxed drivers
The primary objective of the Mercedes-Benz comprehensive safety concept is to prevent accidents. This process starts with people, so whoever is sitting behind the wheel should always be completely fit on all counts — and should remain so during the entire journey. Mercedes-Benz therefore develops vehicles that are comfortable to drive, and the brand also sets the pace for the development of state-of-the-art driver assistance systems.
“Mindlab” is a method developed by Mercedes researchers that uses brainwave measurements to evaluate driver stress, whereby the scientists are also working to determine the best way to issue warnings in such stress situations. Here, electrodes attached to the heads of test subjects provide the scientists with an image of the processes occurring in the individuals’ brains. These images depict the characteristic patterns of brainwaves, which allow experts to determine, for example, how attentive a person is, or how much stress and/or fatigue he or she is currently suffering.
Improved safety through predictive technologies
Ensuring that assistance systems can effectively support drivers requires precise and reliable analyses of traffic situations. The “6D-Vision” system from Mercedes-Benz uses two cameras that view their surroundings in the same manner that a human being’s two eyes do. This stereo arrangement enables 3D depiction of the vehicle’s surroundings in real time. The system uses this information to identify every object around the vehicle and assess the risk it might pose for a potential collision. The Mercedes researchers are particularly hopeful that the system can be used in the future to significantly reduce accidents involving pedestrians, and also lessen the severity of those accidents that occur nevertheless.
Improved comfort through Internet-based infotainment system
MyCOMAND is a brand-new infotainment system developed by Mercedes-Benz. As a completely Internet-based application, it offers a preview of the vehicle telematics systems of the future. MyCOMAND uses the Web to continually update all data and information, which it makes available through a single interface. Users can thus access individual services at any time — and in accordance with their current position and situation — via an attractive and intuitive operating system.