Mercedes-Benz has long been appreciated for the world-class automobiles that come off their factory floors. The German engineers behind one of these most highly-visible luxury brands filed over 2,000 patents just in the year 2009 alone, and if you take a quick glance at what they have in store for the coming years it’s clear that was but a mere warm-up. What you’ll see from this company aren’t just retreads of other popular technology add-ons, but real innovations. Clearly the goal is to fix what’s not working once and for all. And Mercedes-Benz is certainly making a statement.
Whispers have been coming for quite some time now about a self-driving automobile. Toyota has managed to get much of the press through their partnership with Google on a self-driving Prius, but Mercedes-Benz is right there with them. Mercedes has upgraded its standard Distronic Plus cruise control to get their drivers closer than ever before to true hands-free driving. It can work in tandem with other vehicles, matching speeds and distances with cars both in front and behind, while also offering something incredible for individual drivers. Mercedes has mounted radar sensors and stereo cameras in and around the car, that also give you a fully-functioning Traffic Jam Assist system. It will steer the car completely on its own at speeds of 25 mph or slower.
At this point most people are comfortable with touchscreens in their cars. But they’ve always been problematic, because navigating them means blocking a large portion of the screen with your hand. If you have to adjust a map or a series of menus while behind the wheel this can be problematic. Mercedes has now launched what they are calling a Cam-Touch-Pad HMI, or human-machine interface that may have solved the problem. Basically, drivers have a trackpad mounted to the center console, much like what you’d find on your laptop. The translucent pad includes a camera, so instead of a mouse cursor on the screen you actually get a see-through projection of your fingers. You can tap all of the controls as if your finger is on the screen itself, without covering up the image. Fans can expect it to show up in the next S-Class to hit the market.
All Mercedes-Benz vehicles are known for comfort, but their new suspension system, called Advanced Body Control, should take things to the next level. The ABC suspension taps into the stereo cameras mounted on the front and rear windshields to keep tabs on the road. The suspension automatically adjusts to upcoming bumps or potholes, and each wheel can independently adjust to minimize the driver’s discomfort.
In order to continue improving their vehicles beyond their competition, Mercedes-Benz has created its own driving simulators. It has been working on this technology for the past twenty years, and their latest model may be the most advanced driving simulator in the world. It weights 300 tons, extends for 24 feet and can track vertical and horizontal motion impacted by six hydraulic elements onto a massive circular display. The vehicle itself sits inside of a hexagonal simulator pod that sends data to the computers upwards of 1,000 time each second. The system can simulate any type of driving condition, and Mercedes uses it to develop new products and for the final round of testing before a vehicle is released. After buying a vehicle that contains this level of technology, no cheap auto insurance will do. Mercedes has always made fine-tuned performance machines, and you’ll want to protect yours as much as you can.