Mercedes-Benz's Experimental Safety Vehicle Is More Than Just Another Autonomous Concept
【Summary】Mercedes-Benz unveiled an Experimental Safety Vehicle that’s based on the GLE-class that looks into the future of not only autonomous driving, but safety as a whole.
Self-driving vehicles are being marketed as being safer than human drivers on the road, but there's a large picture that automakers are missing with autonomous cars: the overall safety of the vehicles. While all sorts of driver aids and new technology will help drivers avoid a crash, what happens when the inevitable crash does occur? That's something Mercedes-Benz previewed with its Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF).
Safety-Forward Tech For All
The ESF will make its first real-life debut at a convention in The Netherlands, while the public will get an in-person look at the machine at this year's Frankfurt Motor Show. The SUV, which is based on Mercedes' GLE-Class, is fitted with all sorts of insane safety equipment and is the German automaker's way of peering into the future of what could be in store for consumers.
Clearly, from all of the hardware on the exterior, the ESF can drive on its own, featuring Level 4 autonomy (the automaker previously claimed that the next-gen S-Class would have Level 3 autonomy). The SUV, though, does have a steering wheel and pedals for instances when the driver wants to do the driving. When they're not in use, they retract into the dashboard. Not only is it a cool trick, but it diminishes the chance of an injury in the case of an accident.
As a form of vehicle-to-vehicle communication, the ESF has lights on its body that are used to let other drivers, and vehicles, what it plans to do next. The vehicle can also project symbols and animations on the rear windshield to communicate with other vehicles that are driving behind it. Lights on the side of the vehicle can help make the SUV more visible when merging or going through an intersection.
Preventing Crashes But Anticipating Them
When the driver does take over, the ESF has plenty of features to ensure the occupants are safe. "Daylight-like lights" that are placed on the sun visors emit light in a similar fashion to the sun to ensure the person behind the wheel remains alert at all times. Then there are the fancy seatbelt pretensioners that tighten if it senses the driver speeding through a corner. The ESF also comes with a child seat that can monitor a child's vital signs and send live video to a smartphone through the automaker's Mercedes Me app.
Active safety features include an automatic creep function that occurs when the vehicle senses that a vehicle is approaching from the rear too fast and attempts to create more space by slowly creeping forward, automatic emergency braking while cornering, and 360-degree pedestrian detection.
The most interesting piece of equipment on the ESF, though, is a robot that deploys from the vehicle's rear bumper that deploys in the case of an incident. Once the vehicle detects a crash, the robot deploys from a ramp at the back and makes its way up the road. Once in a safe position, the robot erects a reflective road triangle to warn drivers of the stopped vehicle.
We're sure some of the ESF's more advanced features are still decades away. But things like the fancy seatbelts and extra hardware for improved pedestrian detection are probably in the pipeline. Some of the items, like the robot, are farfetched ideas that are fun to envision. Still, when it comes to safety, the ESF really has it all and so could a future Mercedes.
Vineeth Joel Patel
Joel Patel has been covering all aspects of the automotive industry for four years as an editor and freelance writer for various websites. When it comes to cars, he enjoys covering the merger between technology and cars. In his spare time, Joel likes to watch baseball, work on his car, and try new foods
Tesla, Kia Rank Highly in J.D. Power’s First EVX Ownership Study
2021 Ford Mustang Mach-E Deliveries Delayed Over Quality Issues
Kia Gains a New Logo, Teases Upcoming Electric Vehicles
NHTSA Issues New Rules for Autonomous Cars to Skip Some Safety Standards
General Motors Launches New Startup 'BrightDrop' for Electric Delivery Vehicles
IIHS Finds Front AEB Saves Lives, Rear AEB Reduces Fender Benders
Report: Apple’s Autonomous Electric Car at Least Five Years Away
Hyundai Claims It's Talking With Apple About EV Project
- Tesla, Lucid Motors & Rivian Join a New Lobbying Group Called 'ZETA' to Promote Electric Vehicle Adoption in the U.S.
- China’s Tech Giant Baidu is Considering Making its Own Electric Vehicles, Sources Say
- AI-Powered Chip Developer Horizon Robotics Raises $400 Million in Latest Funding Round
- Chinese EV Startup NIO to Unveil its First Electric Sedan on Jan 9, New Competition for the Tesla Model 3
- China’s Newest New Energy Vehicle Startup Li Auto Reaches Sales of 30,000 Units This Year
- The Tesla Model 3 Will Now Share More Components with the Model Y Crossover
- Drivers Are Too Trusting of Partially Autonomous Vehicles Claims IIHS Report
- Tesla to Export its China-built Model 3 to Countries in Europe
- Volkswagen is Rapidly Expanding its EV Charging Infrastructure in Germany
- EVs Won’t Become as Cheap as Regular Cars to Build Until 2024