»The Democratisation of Safety.«

An interview with Jörg Breuer, Head of Passenger Car Development, Active Safety at Daimler, who is working hard to prevent rear-end collisions.

An interview with Jörg Breuer, Head of Passenger Car Development, Active Safety at Daimler, who is working hard to prevent rear-end collisions.

Mr. Breuer, other manufacturers already have brake assistance systems for urban driving. How does the Mercedes-Benz radar-based collision warning system differ from these?
COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST is not a system designed to minimise minor damage at low speeds. Instead, this intelligent assistance system aims to provide protection against typical rear-end collisions at speeds above 30 km/h.

We take it you see this as the relevant speed range – hazardous situations that can lead to rear-end collisions usually occur above 30 km/h?
Yes, that’s shown by real-world accident data from GIDAS, the largest project to record accident data in Germany. This speed profile is also confirmed by our field tests in which more than 1200 drivers have covered over 6.8 million kilometres in Europe, the US, Japan and South Africa since 2005.

The new compact class vehicles from Mercedes-Benz are equipped with COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST as standard. What are your expectations this will achieve concerning accident figures and accident severity?
We expect COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST to have a positive effect on rear-end collisions similar to what we have seen with driver-related accidents following the introduction of ESP as standard. This is backed up by initial test results. Tests involving 110 car drivers in the dynamic simulator saw the accident rate fall by three quarters from 44 to 11 percent in three typical situations thanks to the combination of collision warning and adaptive braking assistance. Independent tests also corroborate the high potential offered by collision warning and adaptive braking assistance in preventing accidents.

COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST gives a warning and adjusts the braking force as required, but unlike the optional DISTRONIC PLUS it does not initiate braking autonomously. Is that a disadvantage?
No, because COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST comes with the most important safety functions from the DISTRONIC PLUS package in the form of warnings and adaptive braking assistance. Our field tests show that these two functions deal with most critical situations that occur: drivers react to the collision warning and initiate braking – with adaptive Brake Assist providing targeted support where necessary. The advantage of DISTRONIC PLUS is clearly the comfort and convenience it provides by automatically adjusting the speed and therefore also the distance to the vehicle ahead.

COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST is only one of many driving assistance systems available for the A-Class. What are the other highlights?
In all, ten driving assistance systems are available. Reserved until now for higher vehicle categories, they include systems such as ATTENTION ASSIST, which detects drowsy driving, and the PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system. This can really be described as the democratisation of safety.

Democratisation of safety means that safety innovations from higher vehicle segments find their way into the mid-range and compact class. Does it also mean that the A-Class has passed the brand’s own rigorous crash tests despite its compact exterior dimensions?
Yes, “One star is all you need” is our safety philosophy and it goes without saying that it also applies to the A-Class. My colleagues in Passive Safety development have done a great job here and achieved their objective: the A-Class has passed the brand’s rigorous test programme. This includes not only some 30 different impact configurations, which are laid down as requirements for safety ratings and international type approval, but also some demanding proprietary crash tests, such as the roof-drop test or various pole impact tests, developed by our company.

Mercedes-Benz A-Class: fuel consumption, combined cycle: 6.4-3.8 l/100km, CO2 emissions, combined: 148-98 g/km, energy efficiency class: C-A+.*

* The figures are provided in accordance with the German Ordinance on the Energy Consumption Labelling of Passenger Cars (PKW-EnVKV) and apply only to the German market. They do not concern an individual vehicle and are not part of the offer; they are provided solely for the purposes of comparison between different types of vehicles.

A Really Inflated Idea: The Balloon Car

The Balloon Car might not win a prize in a beauty contest, but then again, this A-Class in bouncy-castle look isn‘t designed to! The Balloon Car was developed by safety experts at Mercedes Benz for test and demonstration purposes. It offers a risk-free means of testing out how well radar-based driving assistance systems such as COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST work. For this purpose, the Balloon Car is hitched to the trailer coupling of a vehicle in front of it. Behind this rather unusual vehicle/trailer combination drives a test car equipped with the assistance system. Its radar is able to pick up the Balloon Car as there is an appropriate solid structure underneath its soft outer shell. COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST also underwent testing in the driving simulator, of course. Operation was furthermore validated by an extensive programme of near-launch road trials, when vehicles are fitted with both measuring equipment for recording driving dynamics parameters as well as video cameras for monitoring the traffic situation.

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