30 October 2013

New S-Class tech heads towards driverless cars

Many future features of autonomous cars are available now in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class launched in Ireland yesterday, writes Trish Whelan.

New S-Class is being seen by Mercedes-Benz as an important crossroads on the way towards the development of a car capable of being driven without driver intervention

One feature that shows this more than any other is the optional Distronic Plus with Stop & Go Pilot. The system reduces rear-end collisions, lowers fuel consumption. It works by automatically ensuring that the car follows the vehicle in front - braking, accelerating, even steering autonomously so the driver can relax in traffic jams and other such slow-moving conditions. With a series of cameras and sensors the car can see and hear in all directions at the same time, and predict movements of other cars.

Available equipment includes air suspension and adaptive damping, distance monitoring systems, the sensors and cameras that alert the driver to potential dangers, brake assist, active lane keeping, adaptive high beam assist, night view thermal imaging that flags the presence of pedestrians and animals on the road, all form part of the S-Class safety offering.

There's also a system that reads the road and adjusts the suspension automatically to flatten out bumps that may lie ahead. Other safety items spot the risk of a rear end collision and deploy belt tensioners to reduce injury.

Owners can choose from many different shades of ambient lighting throughout the cabin, depending on their mood.

Many owners are chauffeur-driven, so the new S-Class is offered in standard and long-wheel versions.

A new GLA is set to arrive in March, followed by a new C-Class in May/June (this is a combination between S-Class and CLA).