Mercedes-Benz Trucks: Safety: New assistance systems: Active Brake Assist 4 emergency: braking assistant featuring pedestrian recognition and: Sideguard Assist

  • Systematic expansion of the range of active safety systems
  • Active Brake Assist 4 - first emergency braking assistant with pedestrian recognition
  • Market launch of the first truck with Sideguard Assist – � � warns the driver of pedestrians, cyclists and obstacles

Maximum safety is a fundamental value of the Mercedes-Benz brand and an essential element of its DNA. A major proportion of the safety systems available in trucks today were premiered in a vehicle bearing the Mercedes star. The spectrum ranges from the ABS anti-lock braking system to Active Brake Assist, the emergency braking system. While safety systems to date have served first and foremost to avoid serious accidents on motorways and highways, with Active Brake Assist in its fourth generation and Sideguard Assist – both featuring pedestrian detection - Mercedes-Benz Trucks is opening up a whole new chapter: these systems afford protection above all to the most vulnerable road users - pedestrians and cyclists - as Mercedes-Benz Trucks applies cutting-edge safety technology to urban traffic. Active Brake Assist 4 is the first emergency braking system for trucks which can markedly reduce the risk of accidents with pedestrians. Sideguard Assist is the first available assistance system that protects pedestrians and cyclists when trucks are in cornering situations. Both systems will save lives and demonstrate Mercedes-Benz Trucks' policy of consistently introducing new active safety systems onto the market – � � on the road to accident-free driving.

New safety systems protect the most vulnerable road users

Mercedes-Benz launched Active Brake Assist 1 (ABA 1) ten years ago. Many of these safety systems developed by Mercedes-Benz, such as Lane Keeping Assist, have not only become firmly established on the market - they are now even mandatory for new vehicle registrations in the EU. These systems cover two key causes of accidents such as rear-end collisions and vehicles leaving the carriageway.

With Active Brake Assist 4 and Sideguard Assist, Mercedes-Benz is now tackling the third major cause of accidents involving heavy-duty trucks: accidents in the low speed range when cornering and in the area of junctions. In so doing, Mercedes-Benz is first and foremost addressing accidents in built-up areas and involving the most vulnerable road users - unprotected pedestrians and cyclists.

Sharp decline in the number of accidents involving trucks

Accidents involving trucks can be considered from various perspectives. The figures speak a clear language. The number of road users killed in the EU in accidents involving goods vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 3.5 tonnes and over has been declining for some years now. Between 2004 and 2013 the figure fell by almost 50 percent, from 7826 to 4021 fatalities. As such, it has fallen more strongly than the total number of people killed in road traffic accidents, which decreased over the same period by 45 percent, to around 26 000 road users.

At the same time, the transport volume of trucks has risen substantially. The German Federal Statistical Office and the BGL trade association for the goods transport industry report an increase in the transport volume for trucks in Germany – measured in tonne kilometres – of 85.3 percent in the period from 1992 to 2014, for example. The number of traffic deaths in accidents involving trucks fell over the same period by 59.7 percent.

Pedestrians and cyclists account for 30 percent of all traffic deaths

A closer examination of the statistics shows that cyclists account for around eight percent of all traffic deaths, while pedestrians make up 22 percent. This means that these two groups of unprotected road users together account for almost one third of all traffic deaths. The overwhelming majority of these accidents occur in built-up areas. The decline in the number of traffic deaths is additionally less pronounced in these groups than among the other road users: in the ten years from 2004 to 2013 the number of traffic deaths among cyclists in the EU fell by only 32 percent, while the figure for pedestrians dropped by 38 percent.

While media coverage generally focuses on serious accidents on motorways and highways, in reality the situation is often quite different. In Germany, for example, around 30 percent of all traffic deaths occur in built-up areas – with regard to fatal traffic accidents involving goods transport vehicles, this figure is even in the region of 50 percent. Critical situations here are vehicles turning off or onto roads and traffic at junctions. The German Federal Statistical Office puts the figure for accidents in built-up areas involving goods transport vehicles and causing bodily injury in 2014 at precisely 16 365 (Source: DESTATIS Bericht GKF) – almost half of all such accidents occurred in this environment.

Pedestrians and cyclists need to be protected, as accidents involving trucks involve high risks for this group on account of the mass of a heavy-duty truck. With this in mind, Mercedes-Benz places the emphasis on active safety – with the aim of avoiding accidents wherever possible, or at least drastically mitigating their consequences.

Active Brake Assist revolutionised safety technology

A revolution in safety technology: when it was introduced ten years ago, Active Brake Assist 1 (ABA 1) from Mercedes-Benz Trucks was the first emergency braking assistant in trucks to brake automatically in response to obstacles. Mercedes-Benz has continued to develop this technology on an ongoing basis. What began in 2006 with emergency braking in response to slower vehicles ahead culminated in the third generation (ABA 3) in 2012 in automatic emergency braking within the system's limits to a standstill, also in response to stationary obstacles. Active Brake Assist has written history in vehicle safety – today, automatically intervening emergency braking assistants are mandatory for newly registered heavy-duty trucks in the EU.

It is not known how many traffic accidents have been avoided with the aid of Active Brake Assist and how many road users' lives it has saved, as it is not possible to count avoided accidents. One thing is certain, however: Active Brake Assist 1-3 from Mercedes-Benz is a major contributory factor to the positive accident record for heavy-duty trucks in Europe.

Active Brake Assist 4: first emergency braking assistant with pedestrian detection

The next chapter in the Active Brake Assist success story is now unfolding. The current Active Brake Assist 3 from Mercedes-Benz Trucks already surpasses the requirements which will be introduced by the EU in a more stringent standard in November 2018. The new Active Brake Assist 4 with pedestrian protection from Mercedes-Benz represents a further milestone in the development of active safety technologies.

The outstanding feature of Active Brake Assist 4 is that it warns the driver of imminent collisions with pedestrians and simultaneously automatically initiates partial braking. It is the first system of its type worldwide to perform such functions. In so doing, it enables the driver to avoid a collision by means of emergency braking or a steering manoeuvre. The driver can additionally warn endangered pedestrians by sounding the horn.

Active Brake Assist 4 thus constitutes a further development of well-proven Active Brake Assist 3, incorporating an additional warning and partial braking in response to moving pedestrians. Operation of the system and the display set-up correspond to Active Brake Assist 3. In contrast to braking in response to moving and stationary obstacles, partial braking in response to moving pedestrians is not accompanied by a warning cascade, but rather the audible and visible warnings are output simultaneously with partial braking.

Long- and short-range radar systems detect pedestrians, cars and objects

The long-range radar of Active Brake Assist 4 detects vehicles and obstacles in a direct line in front of the truck up to a distance of 250 m and pedestrians up to a distance of 80 m. Motorcycles, mopeds and cyclists are detectable up to a distance in between these two ranges (160 m). The maximum opening angle is 18 degrees. The short-range radar has a range of 70 m. The wide opening angle of 120 degrees additionally enables Active Brake Assist 4 to detect vehicles and moving pedestrians at the sides of the area in front of the vehicle, whereby the range of vision is dependent on the topography, the course of the road, weather conditions and ambient influencing factors, such as pedestrians moving quickly into the traffic area or concealed pedestrians.

Active Brake Assist is able to detect moving pedestrians in virtually any traffic situation, for example if they walk into the truck's lane from the side, emerge from behind an obstacle or are moving along the vehicle's lane. Pedestrians are also detected within the range of the radar system when the truck turns off to the left and right. The automatic warning and braking reactions of the pedestrian detection system are effective up to a vehicle speed of 50 km/h. (The warning and braking reactions to stationary and moving obstacles apply throughout the entire speed range from 0 to 90 km/h).

The truck driver then decides on any further actions. The driver can override the system at any time as necessary, by means of a steering movement, kickdown or emergency braking, for example. If the driver does not brake firmly enough, the braking intensity of Active Brake Assist 4 takes precedence.

Multi-mode radar with improved range and performance

The basis for Active Brake Assist 4 with the additional pedestrian detection function is provided by a new generation of radar technology. This is also used in the current passenger cars from Mercedes-Benz, demonstrating the close cooperation within the group.

A radar system offers the advantage that it operates independently of the prevailing light conditions and also largely independently of weather conditions. Radar determines distances and relative speeds extremely precisely, and is also able to "see" at night and in rain and fog. Vehicles, pedestrians and objects are recognised on the basis of a radar signature. This involves analysis first and foremost of the form and reflection.

The new radar generation takes the form of electronically scanning multi-mode radar. This offers markedly improved range and performance. For the first time, the long-range radar now operates independently of the set driving level and is able to adapt continuously to changing inclination of the vehicle as a result of suspension or load statuses.

Active Brake Assist 4 will be available from December 2016

Like Active Brake Assist 3, Active Brake Assist 4 with pedestrian detection will be available for all long-haul transport models from Mercedes-Benz. Active Brake Assist 4 will be available from December 2016 as a separate item of optional equipment or as part of the Safety Packs.

Risk factor: turning off in urban traffic

Right turns in urban traffic are among the least pleasant tasks for truck drivers: they are required to heed traffic lights and signs ahead while simultaneously observing oncoming and crossing traffic and keeping an eye on pedestrians and cyclists at the side.

In addition, the traffic situation may alter in a matter of seconds and cyclists and pedestrians are not always aware that a truck driver may not be able to detect them.

The expert organisation Dekra has established that in 70 percent of accidents between trucks and pedestrians or cyclists which occur when a truck is turning off, initial contact takes place on the right-hand side of the truck. The critical zone accounting for 64 percent of such accidents covers the segment from the right-hand front edge of the cab up to the height of the front axle.

Market launch of the first truck with Sideguard Assist

Mercedes Benz's pioneering response to this situation is to introduce Sideguard Assist with pedestrian detection. Mercedes-Benz has pursued the development of this assistance system with vigour: initially unveiled to the public two years ago, following intensive testing Sideguard Assist is now ready for series production.

Sideguard Assist can save lives: the German Insurance Association (GDV), for example, assumes that with such a system around half of all accidents between trucks and pedestrians or cyclists can be avoided. It concludes that this could ideally cut the number of attendant fatalities by around one third and the number of severely injured accident victims by more than 40 percent.

The strategy: continual information, warnings as necessary

Sideguard Assist supports the driver in situations involving restricted visibility. First and foremost, this focuses on accidents such as collisions with unprotected road users in the guise of pedestrians or cyclists, accidents during cornering and impending collisions when changing lane.

Sideguard Assist operates in several stages: It first of all informs the driver when a relevant object is located in the warning zone. In a second stage the driver is informed if they initiate or continue action and there is the danger of a collision.

If there is a moving object in the side monitoring zone the driver is provided with a visible warning. An LED in the shape of a triangle lights up at the driver's eye level in the A-pillar on the co-driver's side. This lamp intuitively attracts the driver's attention to the situation alongside the vehicle and in the direction of the exterior mirrors on the co-driver's side. If there is a risk of a collision, an additional visual and audible warning is triggered: the LED flashes brightly several times in red. After two seconds it remains permanently lit in red. A warning buzzer additionally sounds from a loudspeaker of the radio system on the side in question.

If the sensors additionally detect a stationary obstacle such as a traffic light or lamp in the tracking pattern of the truck during the process of turning off, there is also a visual and audible warning. This also serves to avoid collisions - not only in public traffic, but also during manoeuvring at depots or in parking areas. The tracking pattern warning operates in the speed range from 0 to 36 km/h. The other functions of Sideguard Assist are available throughout the entire speed range from 0 to 90 km/h.

Sideguard Assist - your extra pair of eyes

This comprehensive support for the driver occurs over the entire speed range of the truck from standstill – at a traffic light, for instance – to the permitted maximum speed. For the purposes of its warning cascade, Sideguard Assist also analyses actions by the driver, for example activation of the indicator on the co-driver's side or the steering angle when moving off, and the distance from a moving or movable object is assessed continuously while the truck is on the move. Sideguard Assist also warns the driver of any obstacles when they turn off without activating the indicator, for example.

The driver retains full responsibility and remains in control of the situation at all times and is able to take any course of action which appears appropriate.

Information and warnings are given depending on the situation

Information and warnings are given according to the individual situation:

  • The driver receives a visual warning when a moving object is located on the co-driver's side, in order to draw their attention to the other road user in good time.
  • When an intention to turn off is detected – use of the indicator or steering angle – the driver is alerted to an impending collision by a warning tone and a visual signal in the A-pillar.
  • When turning off, Sideguard Assist gives an additional warning about the danger of a collision with a stationary obstacle, such as a traffic sign or a boundary post, by monitoring the tracking pattern of the semitrailer or trailer.

Sideguard Assist from Mercedes-Benz also helps when changing lane

The new Sideguard Assist system from Mercedes-Benz can do even more: When changing lane to the right, it also warns the truck driver as an assistance system operating up to the maximum permissible speed. At higher speeds, Sideguard Assist assumes the role of a lane-change assistant. The driver is also informed of any object on the co-driver's side and a corresponding warning is output if the driver activates the indicator or passes over the lane marking. In this way, Sideguard Assist provides support when changing lane, for example when overtaking a cyclist in an extra-urban setting or when changing lane on multi-lane roads.

The radar sensors monitor the entire area on the co-driver's side

The core of Sideguard Assist is a radar sensor system with two short-range radar sensors in front of the truck's rear axle on the co-driver's side. The side monitoring zone has a width of 3.75 m. The system is oriented so as to cover the entire length of the truck. This applies equally to rigid vehicles such as tractors and to a complete truck and trailer combination of up to 18.75 m in length, when the tractor is coupled with a semitrailer or trailer. The length of the monitoring zone even extends by two metres beyond the front of the truck and one meter behind the end of the semitrailer or tractor.

When parameterising Sideguard Assist for delivery, the different wheelbase variants of the tractor receive due consideration. The system also distinguishes between a tractor unit with trailer and a truck-trailer combination and accords due consideration to their different cornering characteristics.

The system operates in self-learning mode while the truck is on the move: if the trailer or semitrailer enter into the radar's visible range during cornering, for example, Sideguard Assist can adapt to any change in the vehicle combination's articulation behaviour, e.g. following a change of trailer.

Sideguard Assist is an example of system networking within the vehicle. It receives the information that the vehicle is stationary from the wheel speed sensors, for example, distinguishing in its response between low speeds of up to 36 km/h and high speeds above this range. Apart from the radar data, the Sideguard Assist control unit also processes driver reactions and system settings in the instrument cluster, as well as vehicle movement and vehicle configuration data from the central electronics and the brake system. The data is transmitted via the CAN system of the chassis and the CAN of the assistance system.

Sideguard Assist will be available from December 2016, initially for the left-hand-drive Mercedes-Benz Actros and Antos as a 4x2 semitrailer tractor and as a chassis with a 6x2 axle configuration. As such, this technology from Mercedes-Benz will be available for a major proportion of heavy-duty distributor vehicles.

Mercedes-Benz Trucks: a pioneer in the field of innovative and active safety systems

Mercedes-Benz Trucks and safety are inseparably linked. Virtually all safety systems were premiered in trucks bearing the Mercedes star – and this year marks the anniversary of many such milestones. Just a few examples from among many:

  • 1981: 35 years of the ABS anti-lock brake system
  • 1985: Acceleration skid control ASR
  • 1996: 20 years of the EBS electronic brake system, Roll Control Assist, disc brakes on all axles
  • 2000: Proximity Control Assist, Lane Keeping Assist
  • 2001: 15 years of Stability Control Assist
  • 2006: Active Brake Assist 1
  • 2011: Proximity Control Assist with stop-and-go function
  • 2012: Active Brake Assist 3

In-house accident analyses scrutinise accidents down to the last detail

Mercedes-Benz's approach in pursuit of maximum possible safety centres on anticipatory action, rather than reaction. The ultimate objective is defined by the vision of accident-free driving, to which Mercedes-Benz is moving ever closer with each new development.

A driving force behind this progress is the company's in-house commercial vehicle accident analysis, which supports the development engineers with a wealth of information. For 46 years now, the experts have been investigating real-life accidents involving Mercedes-Benz trucks. They attend the scene of almost every serious accident involving a Mercedes-Benz truck, and conduct their own, independent investigations.

For the past twelve years accidents involving all vehicle brands have also been recorded and evaluated in a commercial vehicle accident database. This research is a major element in developing active and passive vehicle safety systems – an unrivalled combination of know-how and practical relevance.

In-company networking provides the vital edge

The technical lead established by vehicles from Mercedes-Benz Trucks with respect to safety developments did not come about by chance. A major advantage within the Daimler group is the close links which apply between the individual divisions and brands, covering trucks, vans, buses & coaches and passenger cars, and the central Group Research department's close connections with each of these areas. This means that each unit benefits from the development work and experience of the others.

Two examples: In 1978, Mercedes-Benz was the first manufacturer in the world to launch the ABS electronic anti-lock brake system, on board the S-Class. Only three years later, it was duly introduced into the trucks from Mercedes-Benz. In the spring of 1995 the electronic stability system ESP was the first such system worldwide to enter series production, in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. Trucks, vans, buses and coaches followed suit only a few years later. In both cases, the scope of development work was substantially more extensive for commercial vehicles: considerably more complex versions, resulting from a diverse scope of model variants and different wheelbases, axle configurations bodies and load states necessitate a far greater and more complex spectrum of development and testing.