The new Mercedes-Benz Sprinter: New safety and assistance systems on a par with a car

Today's camper van users are unwilling to forego familiar passenger car standards when it comes to safety and assistance systems. The new Sprinter, therefore, comes with a host of safety and assistance systems that were previously the preserve of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars. These include the radar-based Distance Assist DISTRONIC, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST. Traffic Sign Assist draws additional attention to speed limits, no-entry and no-overtaking restrictions as well as the end of such restrictions. The Parking package with 360-degree camera makes another important contribution to reducing the driver's workload. Crosswind Assist, which made its debut in the Sprinter in 2013 and marked an innovation in the segment at the time, is also included as standard.

The full range of assistance systems is available in camping buses, which are based on the Sprinter panel van. In the case of camper vans with a separate body – such as alcove vehicles as well as integrated and semi-integrated camper vans with their own body – availability depends on the type of body. Developers at Mercedes-Benz Vans are constantly working on how to extend sensor and camera technology to these different bodies. Great progress has already been made in this area with the new Sprinter.

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC reduces the stress on the driver in stop-and-go traffic, while Active Brake Assist brakes the vehicle to a stop in an emergency

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is making its debut in the Sprinter segment, effectively reducing the camper van driver's workload in stop-and-go traffic on motorways and similar roads. The driver simply sets the desired speed (20 km/h or higher) and the system automatically maintains the selected distance from the vehicle in front. The necessary data comes from a radar sensor in the front bumper. The system detects lane-changes or braking manoeuvres by other road users and is able to respond immediately: if the distance from the vehicle in front decreases, the vehicle speed is reduced with up to 50 percent of the maximum braking force. If it detects the risk of a collision, Active Brake Assist intervenes, braking the vehicle to a stop, if necessary, in order, where possible, to prevent an accident. If the vehicle is stationary for less than three seconds, the Sprinter moves off again automatically. If the vehicle is stationary for longer than three seconds, it is necessary to briefly nudge the accelerator or to reactivate Distance Assist DISTRONIC using the steering wheel buttons.

ATTENTION ASSIST makes drivers aware of their limits

ATTENTION ASSIST helps camper van drivers especially on long journeys and at night. At the start of a journey, Attention Assist registers the driver's behaviour on the basis of e.g. the movements of the steering wheel. During the first 15 to 20 minutes, a driver profile is generated and then continuously compared with the current driving behaviour. Should the analysis of over 70 parameters recognise certain patterns that indicate drowsiness or loss of concentration, the system gives an audible and visual warning, prompting the driver to take a break. A chart in the cockpit display with five bars from low to high shows the concentration level of the driver. The driving time since the last break is also shown. ATTENTION ASSIST is active from a speed of 60 km/h and can be adapted to personal preferences or manually deactivated from the menu settings.

Active Lane Keeping Assist brings the vehicle back into lane

Active Lane Keeping Assist can also reduce the risk of accidents caused by inattentive or overtired drivers. From a speed of 60 km/h, the system detects when the vehicle departs from its lane unintentionally. Radar sensors monitor the traffic around the vehicle, while a camera checks whether broken- or solid-line lane markings are crossed. In the event of unintentional lane departure, the driver is warned by a vibration in the steering wheel. If the driver fails to react to the warning in the case of a solid-line lane marking, Active Lane Keeping Assist returns the vehicle to its lane by means of one-sided braking.

Targeted help against strong gusts of wind – Crosswind Assist

Whether on the way to Scandinavia while crossing the Fehmarnbelt Bridge or on a tour to the south of France on the Rhone Valley Bridge while the mistral is blowing – most camper van drivers have felt the unpleasant effects of crosswinds. These popular recreation vehicles are inherently more susceptible to crosswinds than passenger cars, as their high, vertical side wall presents a larger surface to the wind. Crosswind Assist, which is part of the standard equipment specification, almost totally eliminates the effects of strong gusts acting on the vehicle – within the bounds of what is physically possible. The necessary countersteering in sudden gusts of crosswind is substantially reduced, this considerably easing the strain on the driver. Crosswind Assist is automatically activated from a speed of 80 km/h. An appropriate indication in the instrument cluster makes the driver aware of significant intervention by the system.

Improved visibility with LED headlamps and Wet Wiper System

The rain sensor with Wet Wiper System is another innovation in the Sprinter. The system ensures optimum visibility even when wiping the windscreen. To this end, the washer fluid passes through the wiper arms, is sprayed directly ahead of the wiper blades and immediately wiped away. This makes for improved wiping efficiency while providing the driver with a clear view. Especially in poor light conditions, this improves the safety level. It reduces the washer fluid consumption while extensively preventing the unintentional spraying of following vehicles or nearby pedestrians.

Optionally available LED High Performance headlamps also ensure optimum visibility. The LED headlamps provide a more homogeneous light distribution. There is less dazzling of other drivers and oncoming traffic. Compared to conventional or bi-xenon headlamps, LED headlamps have a longer service life.

Easier entering and safer exiting of parking spaces

Two different parking assistance packages are new in the Sprinter. Both assist the driver in parking and manoeuvring situations by providing a better view using ultrasonic sensors. The Parking package with Parking Assist and reversing camera warns the driver of obstacles by means of visual and audible signals. The sensors cover the areas in front of, next to and behind the vehicle. The visual warning by Parking Assist and the image from the reversing camera are shown on the multimedia display. Also, manoeuvring is made easier by dynamic guide lines.

Drive Away Assist as a further element of the Parking package provides assistance when driving away, helping to prevent collisions caused by engaging the wrong gear or by confusing the brake pedal and accelerator. If an obstacle is detected, the system limits the speed to around 2 km/h. If the optional Blind Spot Assist is installed in addition to the Parking package, it detects traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the vehicle and can also brake autonomously in an emergency.

Even better all-round visibility is assured by the Parking package with 360-degree camera, which has four cameras installed at the rear end of the vehicle roof, on the two exterior mirrors and in the radiator grille. The multimedia display shows an all-round bird's-eye view of the vehicle, giving the driver a perfect overview in awkward parking and manoeuvring situations.

Easier manoeuvring and greater reassurance for the driver thanks to EPS

With the Sprinter, safety also means easy manoeuvring and greater reassurance for the driver at high speeds. To guarantee this, the new Sprinter with front- or rear-wheel drive comes as standard with speed-sensitive electric power steering (EPS). It helps the driver to keep the vehicle on course in a crosswind or on an inclined road surface by actively reducing the necessary countersteering effort. Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer in the Sprinter segment to offer EPS also for vehicles up to 5.5 tonnes.

In addition, air suspension specially adapted to the needs of camper vans ensures outstanding driving characteristics on long journeys.