Mercedes-Benz celebrated the launch of its new S-Class by retracing Bertha Benz’s historic 100-kilometre drive in the original Benz 125 years ago – only this time, the car drove itself. The company simply wanted to show that the technologies in the new Mercedes-Benz flagship are “autonomy-ready”.
Unlike the Infiniti Q50, the new S-Class isn’t steer-by-wire, but its systems nevertheless provide a formidable level of sophistication and assistance.
Active Lane Keeping Assist uses the existing stability control system to correct unintentional lane changes. Using radar sensors, it can predict an imminent collision involving other traffic whether approaching or from rear. Stray across when there’s a vehicle in your blind spot, and
Active Lane Keeping Assist will combine with Blind Spot Assist to pulse the steering wheel as a warning and, if necessary, apply lane-correcting selective braking to “yaw” the car back into line. The system will be suppressed if you actively steer in a particular direction – suggested, say, by using the indicators.
It’s active at speeds between 60 and 200 km/h and can be set to Standard or Adaptive mode. Actual steering involvement comes in the form of DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot. The whole thing is cruise control on steroids: at its heart is radar-based Distronic, which maintains following distance by braking the car to match the speed of traffic ahead.
In its latest Stop&Go Pilot form, combined with a stereo camera, it can apply corrective steering to keep the car centered in a lane, even in gentle bends. In response to the radar and camera inputs that indicate lane markings and traffic up front, it controls engine power, transmission, brakes and even steering.
Essentially, in slow-moving traffic hands-free driving is possible as the car faithfully follows the vehicle ahead. A smart, highly sensitive hands-off detection system warns the driver if it’s necessary to grip the wheel again.