Assistance systems: Prevention is the top priority
We are working to make our vision of accident-free driving a reality, and we view ourselves as a pioneer in the field of safety and assistance systems. Connectivity and digitalization are further increasing the potential offered by such systems. We are utilizing our integral safety concept to consistently exploit this potential.
Greater safety on the road
The World Health Organization intends to cut the number of fatalities and injuries on roads in half by 2020 as compared to 2011. Moreover, the EU has set itself the target of reducing the number of traffic deaths in Europe to nearly zero by 2050. Vehicle manufacturers can help society achieve these goals by equipping their vehicles with safety and assistance systems, even though our ability to influence driving behavior and traffic infrastructure is limited.
One of our key obligations is to ensure the safety of our customers and all other road users. As early as 1969, Mercedes-Benz experts began conducting in-house accident research on critical traffic situations and real-life accidents involving Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Vehicle safety and traffic safety standards have become much more stringent since that time. Daimler supports political efforts to achieve further progress by establishing appropriate framework conditions. Vehicle safety is one of the main focus areas of our vehicle development operations. In this way we want to contribute to traffic safety.
To this end, we launched the “SAFE ROADS” CSR initiative in 2015, first in India and then in China as well. The initiative is designed to increase public awareness of traffic safety, especially in countries in which a large number of accidents occur. A “SAFE ROADS India Summit” is held every two years (most recently in 2019) with representatives of transport agencies and various interest groups. In 2020, we are examining possibilities to expand the initiative to other countries.
The global MobileKids initiative for traffic safety is another example of our efforts to improve road safety for everyone. MobileKids was developed with the help of experts and has been active worldwide since 2001. The goal is to make road safety and accident prevention a natural part of the everyday lives of parents and children. Daimler’s presence around the globe enables the Group to align MobileKids activities with individual country-specific circumstances and to work with local partners when organizing activities. MobileKids marks the first time that traffic safety efforts have focused on a standardized concept to address children around the world.
How we evaluate and improve vehicle safety
For decades, our in-house accident research has laid the foundation for innovative safety technologies and the development of ever more efficient systems. We plan to continue pursuing this approach in the future.
While doing so, we naturally take into account increasingly stricter regulations or even go beyond them. We have developed and introduced many solutions. For example, within the framework of the revision of its directive on the general safety of motor vehicles, the EU has decided, among other things, that turning assistance systems be made mandatory for all trucks and buses as of 2024. This regulation also requires the use of assistance systems that monitor the areas in front of and behind the vehicle.
In addition to external regulations, our safety efforts are guided by our internal Daimler AG Product Safety Policy, which describes the requirements, tasks, processes, and responsibilities with regard to product safety and product liability prevention. The policy is designed to avoid the risk of:
- defective or unsafe products making their way onto the road,
- Daimler AG, as the manufacturer of such products, having to assume liability for any potential personal, property, or consequential damages as a result of statutory provisions, and/or being subject to significant fines for non-compliance with such provisions, or being faced with a situation and
- individual employees being held criminally responsible.
Our work focuses on our holistic “Integral Safety” concept, which has been applied at the company for decades now. We first used this concept in the late 1990s to describe how we had divided the utilization of vehicle safety systems into four phases for supporting drivers: firstly while driving, secondly in dangerous situations, thirdly in the event of an accident, and fourthly after an accident. In all four phases, the focus is on real traffic and accident events.
Systems that assist drivers while driving (phase 1) and that can intervene in the vehicle’s operation in a dangerous situation (phase 2), as well as preventive occupant protection systems (phase 2 – such as PRE-SAFE®), are becoming more and more effective as the technology for monitoring the surrounding traffic situation improves.
Cutting-edge technology sensors linked with networked algorithms form the basis of so-called sensor fusion technology. Here, data from various sensors are merged in one or more control units and thus provide system-relevant data for the respective functions.
Our Trucks, Vans, Buses, and Cars divisions are closely networked with one another as well as with Group Research. As a result, all units at the Group benefit from the experience and developments of the others. In line with the Integral Safety concept, we can thus call at any time upon the expertise that exists throughout the Group.
Measures for ensuring safe vehicles
Daimler intends to significantly increase safety in road traffic by means of state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and additional vehicle-based protection systems, always with the vision of accident-free driving in mind. Depending on the segment and the customer requirements in question, we utilize a variety of closely linked safety systems as needed. Thanks to state-of-the-art information technology and the dedication of our engineers, we are able to further improve these systems on a continual basis.
Cars: Potential and performance
Mercedes-Benz’s presentation of its new Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF) 2019 during the International Motor Show in September 2019 offered a look at some of the ideas our safety experts are currently working on. The ESF 2019, which is based on the new Mercedes-Benz GLE plug-in-hybrid (fuel consumption combined: 1.3-1.1 l/100 km; electric power consumption combined: 28.7-25.4 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 34-29 g/km)1, features a holistic safety concept which can be used in a vehicle that can be driven both manually and in a fully automated mode (SAE Level 4). Among the more than 20 innovations are both near-series developments and ideas that reach far into the future.
New V-Class with 13 assistance and safety systems
Five years ago, the V-Class redefined safety standards in its segment with ATTENTION ASSIST and the Crosswind Assist system, which keeps drivers on course in strong wind gusts. Since 2019, the V-Class can also be ordered with Active Brake Assist. The system can identify the danger of a collision with a vehicle ahead, in which case it emits a visual signal and a warning tone. If the driver reacts to the warnings, the system increases the braking pressure to the level needed to avoid a collision. If the driver fails to react, Active Brake Assist provides support with whatever type of braking maneuver might be necessary. In urban traffic, Active Brake Assist can also react to stationary obstacles or pedestrians crossing in front of the vehicle. The Highbeam Assist Plus system is another new feature in the V-Class. This system assists drivers when the high beam is turned on by keeping the roadway continuously well illuminated without dazzling drivers of vehicles in front. Up to 13 assistance and safety systems are available for the V-Class and the Marco Polo camper van variant.
Vans: Assistance systems, training, and protection against high-voltage contact
Whether internal combustion or electric vehicle: As with all other series-produced vehicles of the brand, high safety standards apply here as well.
The systems installed in the new Sprinter include the radar-based Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Lane Keeping Assist. The Crosswind Assist is standard; this makes transporter journeys significantly safer, especially at higher speeds. The range of assistance systems is rounded out by the modular Parking Package, whose numerous sensors and backup camera images on the multimedia display make parking and pulling out of spaces easier than ever. A Parking Package with a 360-degree camera is also available. This package includes four cameras that enable the multimedia display to show an all-round bird’s-eye view of the van. The Blind Spot Assist system, which is available as an option, monitors the areas directly beside and behind the vehicle.
More than 50,000 drivers have participated in the “Van Training on Tour” program since 2003. Here participants at special driver training centers are taught how to use the available safety systems in Mercedes-Benz vans in different situations. In 2019 we suspended and then extensively revised the program, which will be relaunched with its new concept in 2020.
Safety in electric vans
Our batteries have a high level of concept safety by virtue of a protected installation position. Additional safety specifications provide a level of intrinsic safety that goes far beyond mere compliance with official standards. For example, the batteries in our electric vans are protected against mechanical damage from external sources by special shielding in the vehicle underbody. Our batteries are also equipped with a multi-stage safety system that includes temperature and voltage monitoring features, among other things. These monitoring features can shut down the battery if an error occurs during normal driving operation, for example. In the event of an accident of a particular degree of severity or worse, the battery is automatically made voltage-free (“crash cutoff”).
Crash tests with the eVito
The eVito undergoes the same vehicle testing procedures and crash tests as Vito models equipped with combustion engines. The powertrain, high-voltage battery, and all high-voltage lines are embedded in a protective structure. An additional plate shields the battery system against damage from below. All high-voltage lines are extensively insulated and clearly recognizable due to their orange sheathing. In addition, proper connection of the cables is constantly monitored. The high-voltage system is automatically switched off if circumstances require it. If the vehicle’s crash sensors determine that a serious accident has occurred in which, for example, the airbags have been activated, the high-voltage system will immediately be switched to a voltage-free mode. eVito models are also equipped with a shutdown point under the front passenger seat that emergency teams can use to deactivate the power supply manually.
Trucks: Improved systems and an open dialog
Trucks are also frequently involved in accidents – whether these involve rear-end collisions at the end of traffic jams or accidents that injure pedestrians or cyclists when truck drivers fail to see them while making turns. For Daimler, every accident is one too many. That is why we continually further develop our accident-prevention systems and engage in a public dialog on this issue.
Mercedes-Benz Actros with Active Brake Assist 5
The new Actros is equipped with the Active Brake Assist 5 emergency braking system. Interaction between the radar and camera systems marks a first for the truck sector here. Compared with the previous version, this has improved responsiveness to people. At speeds up to 50 km/h, Active Brake Assist 5 can react to people crossing a road, approaching the truck, or walking in the truck’s lane. A multi-stage warning system engages if such a situation is detected. If the driver fails to react, Active Brake Assist 5 will bring the vehicle to a stop as quickly as possible.
Active Brake Assist is just one of the many active assistance systems that have enabled us to make the new Actros even safer than the predecessor model. Along with Active Brake Assist 5, we are offering Active Drive Assist for partially automated (SAE Level 2) driving in the new Actros – the first time such a system has been made available in a series-production truck worldwide. It also features the MirrorCam system, which replaces main and wide-angle mirrors, and the Sideguard Assist system, which detects pedestrians and cyclists in the vicinity of the vehicle. We were the first manufacturer to introduce the Sideguard Assistant ex works as early as 2016. To date, we are the only manufacturer to offer such a complete system integrated into a vehicle. In order to increase safety on streets and roads even further, we will also begin offering this system as a retrofit solution for existing Mercedes truck models in 2020. We are taking even more systematic measures to expand the use of existing active safety systems in order to make road traffic even safer. For this reason, since January 1, 2020 we offer Active Brake Assist 5 as standard equipment in every new Actros and Arocs in Europe, if an emergency brake assistant is required by law. Our Sideguard Assist system is also now available as a retrofit solution for many common variants from the Mercedes-Benz Actros, Arocs, and Econic series from model year 2017 on. Our innovative safety systems were also a major reason why the Mercedes-Benz Actros was voted Truck of the Year 2020.
Award for Freightliner in Las Vegas
In January 2019, the new Freightliner Cascadia truck from Daimler Trucks North America received the prestigious Best Transportation Technology award at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show. The new Cascadia boasts numerous improvements. For example, the truck is equipped with the Detroit Assurance 5.0 system, which is the US equivalent of Active Brake Assist 5. The truck also has an adaptive cruise control that keeps it a safe distance from vehicles ahead. These and other features, such as the Sideguard Assist, Lane Keep Assist, and Lane Departure Protection, make the new Cascadia the first series-production truck in North America to offer partially automated driving functions (SAE Level 2). The sophisticated driver assistance systems make this possible by supporting drivers both in the direction of travel and at the sides of the vehicle, thus ensuring safety in road traffic.
Mercedes-Benz Trucks Safety Dialogue
In November 2019, we invited experts from politics and business and from DEKRA Accident Research and the “Allgemeiner Deutscher Fahrrad-Club e. V.” to the Mercedes-Benz Commercial Vehicles Center in Berlin, where we discussed the possibilities of further increasing truck traffic safety for the benefit of all road users. More specifically, the Safety Dialogue focused in particular on active safety systems that support truck drivers and thus help prevent accidents.
Buses: Safety concepts adapted to specific requirements
The safety concept employed at Daimler Buses consists of several components. The concept centers around vehicle- and application-specific safety systems that improve active and passive safety for buses. Specialized systems are needed in urban traffic settings in particular. One example is the Preventive Brake Assist, the first-ever active braking assistance system for use in city buses. It warns of a potential collision with moving pedestrians or stationary or moving objects and automatically initiates a braking maneuver if there is an imminent risk of collision. The warning cascade and brake intervention are designed for use in urban traffic. Turning maneuvers can also cause accidents. Mercedes-Benz and Setra are the world’s first two bus brands to offer Sideguard Assist with pedestrian detection. The Sideguard Assist operates in several stages. First it informs the driver if a relevant object is located in the warning zone. In the second stage, the driver is issued a warning if he or she initiates or continues an action and the danger of a collision arises. A visual and tactile warning is also triggered if sensors detect a stationary obstacle, such as a traffic light or a bollard, in the turning curve of the bus during turning.
Training courses for drivers are also important for improving safety, as such courses help drivers recognize and avoid dangerous situations before an accident can occur. The courses also teach drivers what to do in the event of an accident. Passenger information on how to use the safety devices on board, starting with the use of the seat belt, is also part of the concept. Other measures include the provision of instructions regarding responsible vehicle maintenance and the use of tested original spare parts when the bus is serviced.
OMNIplus bus driver training
OMNIplus, the service brand for Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses, has been providing training to bus drivers throughout Germany for 27 years now. An average of more than 700 drivers of touring coaches as well as city and school buses participate in OMNIplus courses each year, and a total of more than 19,000 people have successfully completed the training courses to date.
New technologies require new crash tests
We use state-of-the-art testing equipment to evaluate the safety of our vehicles and their systems at our Technology Center for Vehicle Safety (TFS) in Sindelfingen. The focus here is on the application of global test configurations taken from statutory provisions, ratings, and in-house testing. This also includes the validation of vehicle concepts that utilize alternative drive systems. In the crash-test hall at TFS, around 900 crash tests can be performed annually, as well as approximately 1,700 sled tests. The crash-test hall, which is roofed over without any supports, measures 90 x 90 meters, making it larger than an international soccer field.
X-ray technology in crash tests
Mercedes-Benz’ vehicle safety unit is currently testing the use of X-ray technology in crash tests in cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics and the Ernst Mach Institute in Freiburg. This method would enable us to investigate the behavior of safety-relevant components inside the vehicle. The ultrashort-duration X-rays supply extremely sharp stills of specific areas of a vehicle during a crash test. The target of achieving a rate of 1,000 images per second appears to be within reach. The data from the “X-ray crashes” will be combined with computer-aided simulation models to create highly dynamic 3D simulations. These in turn will help improve forecast reliability and optimize the behavior of components in a more efficient and targeted manner.
On a collision course for safety
Mercedes-Benz’s has been conducting systematic crash tests for 60 years now. On September 10, 1959 our first test car accelerated head-on into a stationary obstacle, thereby ushering in a new era for safety research at Mercedes-Benz. From that point on, the behavior and movement of vehicles and vehicle occupants could be studied more closely using test cars and crash dummies.
Traffic safety and social commitment
We launched the “SAFE ROADS” CSR initiative in 2015 as part of our effort to meet our obligations with regard to social responsibility. The initiative is designed to increase traffic safety awareness in India. Our global MobileKids initiative for traffic safety is another example of our efforts to improve safety. Its target is to make road safety and accident prevention a natural part of the everyday life of parents and children.
How we assess the effectiveness of our management approach
Mercedes-Benz models repeatedly earn top marks in safety tests conducted by independent institutes. Of particular note in this regard are the top marks we regularly receive from the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS rating assesses both crash safety and accident-prevention systems. Mercedes-Benz C-Class and E-Class sedans, as well as SUV models and the GLC and the GLE, received the highly coveted “2019 Top Safety Pick+” distinction for the 2019 model year. During the reporting year, the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP) issued five-star ratings to each of the following model series: the Mercedes-Benz GLB, CLA, EQC (EQC 400 4MATIC: Electric power consumption (combined, acc. to NEDC): 21.3-20.2 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km)1, B-Class, GLE, and G-Class. Five stars indicate good overall scores for impact protection and the extensive use of effective accident-prevention technologies that are made available to all customers in Europe. Euro NCAP introduced even more stringent tests in 2018. Among other things, they also focus on the protection of vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians.
1 see appendix: labeling