We want to make car accidents a thing of the past. Accident-free driving – this vision is a firm component of our sustainable business strategy. In order to make this vision a reality, we are focusing on the further development of our driver assistance and automated driving systems in particular. Our extensive assistance and safety systems offer our customers a high level of safety and comfort and also reduce driver stress. Our innovations already make it possible today for driving assistance systems to support drivers on many types of streets and roads, facilitate lane changes on multi-lane roads, and park in and drive out of tight spaces in an automated driving mode with the driver monitoring the vehicle. Our assistance systems also reduce the danger of a collision in an increasing variety of situations. The societal and ethical implications of such systems are always taken into account.
Clear commitment to accident-free mobility
Accident-free driving: This is our ambitious vision for the future of mobility. We are pursuing this vision emphatically because we know that every accident is one too many. Our in-house accident research activities provide us with information on how accidents occur and which safety systems can be used to help prevent them. In this way we are laying the foundation for innovative safety technologies and ever more sophisticated systems based and oriented on actual accidents. We intend to continue on this path. Along with simulations and crash tests, information on actual accidents play a key role here. That’s why we have established our own stringent internal safety requirements, which in many cases go beyond what is mandated by law and beyond the requirements set by rating agencies. Our Accident Research unit is one of the oldest in the industry: For 50 years, our experts have been examining serious accidents involving current Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Our goal is to learn from these accidents and incorporate the knowledge we gain into the design of new models and measures that improve existing systems. Safety is and will remain our core brand value.
Among other things, we have committed ourselves to implementing the following measures:
- We aim to achieve the best possible crash safety results with the highest degree of occupant protection.
- We continue to take measures that increase public awareness of the importance of traffic safety through education programs and roadshows, for example, and we promote communication on issues related to safety technology and innovations.
- We are increasing the use of driving assistance systems in trucks.
- We are integrating societal and ethical considerations into conditionally automated and highly automated driving systems – for example with our “Ethics by design” concept.
- We support social and political dialog and the decision-making processes related to automated driving.
Mercedes-Benz has been offering luxury vehicles with outstandingly high levels of quality and claim on safety for many decades. Our customers know that we design the cars with real accidents in mind and on the basis of standardized tests, but they also want to have this confirmed by the safety ratings.
Axel Heix Head of Development, Compact Class Vehicles, Mercedes-Benz AG
The fact that our vehicles display outstanding safety performance has been repeatedly confirmed by various safety ratings. One example is the Mercedes-Benz GLE. The GLE received the TOP SAFETY PICK+ rating from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) in the United States for the 2019 and 2020 model years. The IIHS rating assesses both crash-safety features and accident-prevention systems, such as those for emergency braking. The GLE’s comprehensive safety concept assured it top marks in the rating.
In 2019, six Mercedes-Benz passenger car models received a top rating for crash tests and driver assistance systems from EURO NCAP (European New Car Assessment Programme – an association of European transport ministries, automobile clubs, and insurance associations): Mercedes-Benz GLB, EQC (power consumption combined: 20.8-19.7 kWh/100 km; CO2 emissions combined: 0 g/km)1, B-Class, GLE, and G-Class. In addition, the Mercedes-Benz CLA was named best in class in the segment “Small Family Cars.”
In January 2019, the partially automated (SAE Level 2) Freightliner Cascadia truck from Daimler Trucks North America received the prestigious Best Transportation Technology award at the Consumer Electronics Show. With the new Cascadia, we are looking to significantly reduce both accidents and fuel consumption through advancements in automation.
At the beginning of 2020, the Mercedes-Benz Actros was voted “Truck of the Year” by commercial vehicle trade journalists from 24 European countries in recognition of, among other things, our Active Drive Assist system for partially automated driving (SAE Level 2) and MirrorCam, which replaces conventional exterior mirrors and not only supports drivers during difficult maneuvers but also improves aerodynamic properties. The journalists were also impressed by the improved fifth generation of the Active Brake Assist system and the Sideguard Assist system, which were invented and further developed by Mercedes-Benz Trucks.
Innovation always requires safety
During the IAA International Motor Show in September 2019, Mercedes-Benz presented the ideas that are currently being explored by our passenger car safety experts. Among other things, the presentation featured the Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF) 2019.
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 includes safety concepts that can be used in a vehicle that can be driven both manually and in a conditionally automated mode (SAE Level 3). The ESF offers a preview of future mobility and boasts a large number of future safety technologies.
Preventing accidents with ABA5
Since January 2020, the fifth generation of our Active Brake Assist (ABA5) system has been included as standard equipment in all new Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks in Europe. 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. Such retrofitting measures are designed to ensure that existing systems can be incorporated into as many Mercedes-Benz trucks as possible in the shortest possible time, so that as many road accidents as possible can be prevented.
Safer streets and roads worldwide
According to the “Global Status Report on Road Safety 2018” from the World Health Organization (WHO), about 300,000 people were killed in traffic accidents in India alone in 2018. The report also says that many of these accidents could have been prevented. In 2015, in order to help make roads and streets safer, we launched the SAFE ROADS CSR initiative to increase traffic safety awareness in India. A special summit has since been held every two years (most recently in 2019) with representatives from transport agencies and various interest groups. We have also launched a SAFE ROADS program in China, and for 2020 we will be examining whether the initiative can be expanded to other countries.
Young people also need to be made more aware of the importance of safety if road traffic is to be made even safer in the future. We have therefore teamed up with MobileKids e. V. to plan a special event for schoolchildren from Stuttgart in which Daimler employees will serve as safety ambassadors.
Finding answers to ethical questions
We would like automated driving systems to be accepted by a broad segment of society. If this is to happen, we need to take ethical questions into account as early as the product development stage and develop our own position with regard to new technologies. Our approach to the responsible development of automated vehicles is based on legal and internal provisions and policies such as our Internal Policy on Technical Compliance, ISO standards 26262 and 21448 for safety-relevant electrical/electronic systems in vehicles, the UN-ECE proposals for standardizing memory and Requirements for an Automated Lane Keeping System, the German government’s Ethics Commission’s 20 guidelines on automated and connected driving, and our four AI principles.
1 see appendix: labeling
The detailed analyses of accidents and how they occur is an important aspect of our efforts to prevent accidents more systematically in the future. Such analyses help us better understand the circumstances and nature of the accidents in which our vehicles are involved, so that we can determine where we need to take action in order to lower the risk of an accident occurring. We plan to expand this form of data collection in the future, in particular by combining it with predictive simulation techniques. For this reason, we are working with existing and new cooperation partners on developing accident research approaches that continually improve and expand the ways accident and traffic data are collected and analyzed.Assistance systems: Prevention is the top priority