With the implementation of Pre-Safe in the S-Class more than a decade ago, Mercedes-Benz introduced a collision avoidance technology that has since filtered down to the entire range. Next year the S-Class will take the technology to an entirely new level, with the next-generation model capable of 360-degree vision thanks to a complex series of 26 sensors and cameras which Mercedes calls “sensor fusion”.
“The intelligent assistance systems of the future will be able to analyse complex situations and recognise potential dangers out on the road with the aid of improved sensor systems even more accurately than today,” says Professor Dr Thomas Weber, member of the Daimler board of management responsible for group research and head of Mercedes-Benz cars development.
There are nine safety features which have been significantly improved for the W222-series Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Distronic Plus with Steering Assist: The S-Class is getting closer and closer to complete autonomous driving, however Mercedes-Benz’s philosophy remains that the driver must always be in control. Nonetheless, with the new steering assist system in Distronic Plus, the S-Class can not only follow the car in front at the same speed, it can now keep in its own lane in the highway and adjust the steering input to remain in the middle of the lane. The system works from 0-200km/h. There are limitations to this, of course. It cannot turn sharply, however we tested the system in a simulator and it worked flawlessly on open roads.
Brake Assist System with Cross-Traffic Assist: With brake assist already helping many Mercedes-Benz vehicles limit the severity of an accident or avoid one altogether, the new S-Class will take this system one step further. The cross-traffic assist component can now see cars and pedestrians crossing the street from either side, which is ideal for when another vehicle runs a stop sign or red light. The S-Class will now warn the driver, tighten up the seat belts and provide braking assistance to avoid or reduce the severity of the accident.
Pre-Safe Brake: Now capable of pedestrian detection and capable of autonomous braking to avoid an accident when speeds are less than 50km/h.
Pre-Safe Plus: This system looks behind the car in the event of an imminent rear-ending. It flashes the rear hazard lights at a higher speed than normal to alert the incoming driver and, if an accident is imminent, applies full brake force to stop the S-Class from moving forward, while also activating all Pre-Safe occupant protection systems to minimise injury.
Pre-Safe Impulse: In an interesting way to avoid serious injury, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class can now pull the driver and front passenger away from the direction of travel well before the accident has caused vehicle deceleration. It's a simple approach that may significantly reduce the severity of injuries in a frontal accident.
Active Lane Keeping Assist: As before, Mercedes-Benz vehicles are capable detecting unwanted lane departure and both warn the driver and apply brakes via the stability control system to bring the car back in the intended direction. The new system takes this further by using actual steering force and is also able to detect incoming cars in the adjacent lane.
Adaptive High-beam Assist Plus: Many high-end vehicles on the road now have high-beam assist - a system that turns off the high-beams when an incoming car is detected. With High-beam Assist Plus, Mercedes-Benz’s light engineers have found a way to keep the high-beams on but mask out the incoming vehicles so they are not blinded by the light. In a demonstration to showcase this technology, we were amazed as to how the headlights simply carved out the light accordingly, so the entire road would light up except the section where the oncoming car was approaching to avoid dazzling the driver.
Night-view Assist Plus: Yet another feature that has been made possible by the S-Class’s amazing headlight technology, the night-view system can not only detect animals and pedestrians using its infrared systems, it can now clearly show the driver the location of the object in the dash and then using its headlight, actually spotlight the object on the road four times to warn the object of the car and to mark its location on the road.
Attention Assist: A further enhancement of the Mercedes-Benz drowsiness detection system, now with dual mode so you can tell the S-Class that you’re feeling unwell before getting in so that it can keep a closer eye on your attentiveness.
Other features of note include the seat belt airbag for the rear passengers, which helps reduce pressure on the ribs in an accident.
Perhaps the most fascinating new feature to be introduced in the S-Class is the lighting technology both inside and out. The S-Class becomes the only car in the world not to feature a single light bulb. The company has chosen to go full LED with the new S-Class, noting the technology's longevity and closer resemblance to daylight. Each dynamic S-Class headlight now contains 55 LED lamps and three motors to provide everything from infrared detection to spotlight feature.
Overall, the array of new technologies in the 2013 Mercedes-Benz S-Class is second to none, and showcases why the S-Class remains the leader for introducing new in-car and safety technologies to the automotive world.
Check out the gallery for more photos.