Intelligent Drive next Level as part of Driver Assistance Package: Semi-automated driving, stress relief, autonomous braking
Semi-automated driving on freeways, highways and even in city traffic, autonomous braking where required in hazardous situations and active assistance with evasive manoeuvres – these are just some of the functions of the new and extended Intelligent Drive driver assistance package from Mercedes-Benz. Our goal: more comfort and less stress by reducing the pressure on the driver, combined with greater safety for all road users.
Trips can be long and monotonous, sometimes lasting several hours. Traffic on the freeways or highways only moves slowly. And the vehicle in front has to repeatedly brake to a halt. This all requires the utmost attention on the part of the driver. Stress is inevitable. In future Mercedes-Benz will address these familiar situations by introducing the Intelligent Drive next Level as a further step on the road to autonomous and relaxed driving.
This assistance system not only provides a Distance Pilot DISTRONIC function - automatically maintaining the correct distance to vehicles in front by adjusting the car's higher desired speed to that of a slower-moving vehicle ahead before accelerating back up to the desired speed once the way ahead is clear again - it can also follow traffic ahead in its lane at speeds from 0 up to 200 km/h. This can make life easier for the driver, who no longer needs to operate the brake or accelerator pedal in normal driving situations and who also receives plenty of steering assistance – even in bends. The system utilizes a further-developed multi-purpose stereo camera behind the windscreen and new radar sensors around the vehicle to detect and orientate itself on road markings, the vehicle in front and also its surroundings. At speeds up to 130 km/h, the Steering Pilot function is not necessarily dependent on clearly visible lane markings as it can also intervene actively if the lines on the road are unclear, as is often the case at road works, or even if there are no lines on the road at all.
Comfort is enhanced by the Speed Limit Pilot subfunction that can be activated in conjunction with COMAND Online. It can autonomously adjust the vehicle's speed in response to camera-detected speed limits or speed limits logged in the navigation system, such as in Germany 50 km/h in towns or 100 km/h on country highways.
Despite active longitudinal and lateral guidance with significantly enhanced steering assistance, Intelligent Drive next Level continues to be designed as a semi-automated assistance system in which the driver still needs to keep their hands on the steering wheel. On the one hand, this is a technical necessity, while, on the other, it is a legal requirement. A intelligent hands-on detection provides a clearly felt, increased customer benefit while taking account of, for example, vehicle speed or road type and curvature. This can effectively take the pressure off the driver and provide assistance, especially in bumper-to-bumper or congested traffic, yet also on long journeys. A considerable contribution is also made by the intelligent design of the restart after automatic stopping, for example in traffic jams on motorways.
Automatic braking in an emergency
Exceptional assistance is offered by the new Active Brake Assist with extended functionality. Its job is to warn the driver of imminent crash situations, to optimally assist them during emergency braking and, if necessary, also to initiate automatic autonomous braking. Mercedes-Benz's objective is thus to prevent collisions or at least to reduce their consequences.
Active Brake Assist likewise uses the radar sensors installed in the vehicle as well as the stereo-multi-purpose camera. These enable it to detect whether the vehicle in front is slowing down, stopping or is stationary. If the system detects a risk of collision and the driver fails to respond to a collision warning or is late responding, the system automatically initiates autonomous braking.
The Cross-Traffic Function of Active Brake Assist also detects cross-traffic and pedestrians in the danger area in front of the vehicle. Also in these cases, Active Brake Assist first warns the driver if there is a risk of collision, providing assistance if the driver fails to brake hard enough. If the driver fails to react, the system initiates braking automatically. If a pedestrian enters the danger area relatively late, the assistance system even brakes simultaneously with the warning to allow the speed of the vehicle to be reduced even faster.
Active Brake Assist is active in a speed range from 7 to 250 km/h for moving objects and can react to stationary objects between 7 and 100 km/h. Under ideal conditions, it can thus prevent a collision with stationary vehicles or pedestrians up to a speed of around 65 km/h. In end-of-tailback scenarios with no opportunity for evasive action, Active Brake Assist can automatically reduce the risk of a collision up to even 90 km/h. Depending on the situation, the cross-traffic function is capable of preventing collisions with crossing traffic in a speed range up to around 70 km/h or of reducing the severity of the collision. The system thus generally makes a significant contribution to preventing accidents or reducing their severity.
Safe evasive action
The intelligent functions of the driver assistance package from Mercedes-Benz also include Evasive Steering Assist. This can help the driver to avoid a pedestrian detected by the assistance system using the radar sensors and multi-purpose stereo camera. If the driver initiates an evasive manoeuvre by turning the steering wheel, the system provides assistance by adding precisely calculated steering torque to support the movement of the steering wheel. This helps the driver to avoid the pedestrian in a controlled manner while subsequently facilitating the straightening-up of the in order to pass safely. While the philosophy behind Evasive Steering Assist is to provide the driver with significant assistance, the initiative to take evasive action must come from the driver. This is because, if evasive action were automatic, a previously inattentive driver might be so surprised by the spontaneous movement of the steering wheel that they might react incorrectly and, for example, intuitively attempt to countersteer.
Proven assistance systems
The intelligent assistance systems in the new driver assistance package from Mercedes-Benz also include proven systems that have been further developed in terms of their mode of operation and the sensors they use. Active Lane Keeping Assist can help stop the driver from unintentionally changing lane, this being done by corrective one-sided application of the brakes, including in the case of broken lines and risk of collision, e.g. with oncoming traffic or fast overtaking vehicles. Active Blind Spot Assist can warn of the risk of a lateral collision and likewise correctively intervene at the last moment to prevent a collision. PRE-SAFE® PLUS can protect against collisions with traffic following behind.