Thursday, June 27, 2013

Sensory Overload: How the New Mercedes S-class Sees All

2014 Mercedes-Benz S350 BlueTec

From the July 2013 issue of CAR and DRIVER magazine

Not only do S-class owners live better than you, but their cars see better, too. The 2014 ­edition certainly has more eyes. Encircled by cameras, radar transceivers, and ultrasonic sensors, it monitors traffic, tracks pedestrians, and even watches your back. Here are the systems by which the new S accelerates, steers, stops, and parks itself.

smart driving systems
Adaptive cruise control with steering assist
Here, Mercedes adds steering to the cruise-control mix. The power steering’s electric motor applies torque to keep the car centered in its lane on straights and in gentle curves. Even where there are no lane markings, the S-class will autonomously follow the car in front, provided it’s traveling at less than 37 mph.
Adaptive headlights
Shutters in the LED headlamps shape the beams to illuminate corners, highlight pedestrians, and avoid blinding oncoming drivers.
The S-class steers and brakes into parallel and angled spaces with the driver contributing only small amounts of throttle. If the car automatically enters a parallel spot, it can also exit that location.
Night vision
The speedometer switches to a night-vision display when a pedestrian or animal is detected, highlighting the hazard in color.
Bird’s-eye view
Four wide-angle cameras provide an overhead view of the car, useful for pulling alongside curbs or parking perfectly between the lines.
Pedestrian detection
Using both the stereo camera and radar, this system can spot pedestrians, predict collisions, and initiate braking. At speeds up to 31 mph, it can automatically avoid an accident altogether.

Collision avoidance
The car warns the driver and applies the brakes if it anticipates an accident is imminent. In addition to identifying cars ahead of you, the new S-class also monitors cross-traffic as you approach intersections.

Collision preparation
Mercedes is the first automaker to locate a radar transceiver in the rear bumper to detect an impending rear-end collision. When it does, a controller activates seatbelt tensioners and increases brake pressure to prevent a secondary collision.
Lane keeping and traffic monitoring
Mercedes has married lane-departure assistance with blind-spot monitoring and the forward-facing sensors. As you wander from your lane, the steering wheel vibrates, but if there’s an oncoming car or a vehicle in your blind spot, the S-class applies the brakes on the opposite side to yank the car back into its lane.

Wide-angle camera
Four cameras create a 360-degree overhead view of the car’s surroundings.

Near-infrared camera
Feeds the night-vision display in the instrument cluster.

Far-infrared camera
Spots wildlife and pedestrians at night up to 525 feet away.

Ultrasonic sensors
Measure the distances to curbs and other cars to determine if the space is adequate for parking; prompts appropriate steering inputs.

Multi-mode radar
Monitors traffic behind with both a wide-angle 98-foot range and a narrower 262-foot field.

Long-range radar
Scans for obstacles up to 656 feet ahead.

Short-range radar
Tracks traffic ahead of the car and in blind spots.

Stereo camera
Detects objects more than a quarter-mile away and provides the computers with a three-dimensional picture up to 164 feet away.

the sensors
Boast the powerful ability to distinguish shapes—say, a stop sign from a pedestrian.
Relies on reflected radio waves and the Doppler effect to determine an object’s distance and velocity. Short-range radar offers better resolution and accuracy than long-range radar.
Determines the distance to an object by measuring the time it takes high-frequency sound waves to return to the transceiver. Range is extremely limited, and measuring velocity isn’t practical.

2014 Mercedes-Benz S-class photo gallery

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