There’s so much more to a car than simply getting you from Point A to Point B, and the newest version of the Mercedes S-Class is looking to really push the envelope in the tech department. And it starts with more automated driving ability.
To aid in this effort, the S-Class has been outfitted with a bevy of sensors. You’ve got a pair of short range radio sensors in the front along with two more in the rear, plus a long-range sensor in the grille, a stereo camera behind the rear view mirror, four cameras for a 360-degree view of the car’s surroundings, and 12 ultrasonic sensors. This all works with the Distronic Plus radar-based cruise control system that is getting a major update with the new sedan coming out next year.
In addition to controlling your gas and brake in stop-and-go traffic, there’s also a steering assist feature that will keep you in your lane. It does this by using the various cameras and radar sensors, reading road markings and cars around you at speeds of up to 124mph. Oddly, this “semi-autonomous following” only works when you have your hands on the wheel. The car won’t really “drive itself” unless you’re prepared to drive it too.
Mercedes has also replaced all the light bulbs in the car–both interior and exterior–with LEDs instead. You basically have permanent high beams on, but they’ll dim when the car’s cameras detect another vehicle. That applies to the brake lights too, dimming during the day and getting brighter when you slam on the brake pedal.
There is also Brake Assist Plus with Cross-Traffic Alert to stop the car if you’re about to get T-boned. The front stereo camera will read road signs and display information on your dashboard; the 3rd-gen Night View Assist provides a night vision HUD to avoid nocturnal mishaps; the auto park feature does both parallel and stall parking with complete control of the steering, gas, and brakes; and even the seatbelts have been notched up with added tech, including added airbags and accident energy-dissipating features.
Most of the new features are in the name of safety and while some people may be fearful to relinquish that kind of control to a “smart” car computer, it indicates where the automotive industry is heading. And all those cameras and sensors tell us where we’re heading too.