Chronology of Mercedes-Benz assistance systems

Oct 10, 2018

1970 Mercedes-Benz unveiled the first-generation anti-lock braking system for passenger cars, which was jointly developed with Teldix. Deliberations for this started back to 1953. It was then that Hans Scherenberg, later to become Head of Development on the board at Daimler-Benz, applied for a patent on a system “to stop a vehicle’s wheels locking under braking”.

1975 Cruise control became available for the first time – as optional equipment for Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 116 as well as for SL and SLC model series 107 in conjunction with automatic transmission. It was developed mainly in response to demand in the North American market.

1978 Mercedes-Benz unveiled the second-generation anti-lock braking system, which was jointly developed with Bosch. This world first was initially available from December for S-Class Saloon model series 116. ABS was available for all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars from August 1980 onwards.

1984 The trip computer became the first digital interface between driver and car at Mercedes-Benz. A keypad on the centre console enabled the driver to call up twelve functions, including average consumption and average speed.

1985 Mercedes-Benz unveiled the new dynamic handling control systems ASD (automatic locking differential) and ASR (anti-slip control) as well as the automatically engaging 4MATIC 4-wheel drive. Quote from the press release: “ State-of-the-art automotive mechanics and hydraulics in conjunction with intelligent electronics”.

1986 Market launch of the 4MATIC models in model series 124 with automatically engaging four-wheel drive.

1986 Launch of the PROMETHEUS (Program for European Traffic with Highest Efficiency and Unprecedented Safety) research project. Subprojects included intelligent cruise control, electronic route guidance, and inter-vehicle communication. Within PROMETHEUS, Mercedes-Benz started collaborating with the University of the German Federal Armed Forces to develop autonomous cars. In 1994, two highly automated S-Class Saloons from model series 140 reached speeds of up to 130 km/h in motorway traffic.

1990 An enhanced version of racing ABS was used in the DTM invitation race at Kyalami (South Africa) on 18 November. Mercedes-Benz racing tourers with ABS also lined up at the start in the DTM and the ITC from 1991 to 1996. A similar system was used in Formula 1 at almost the same time, although the rules banned its use from the 1994 season onwards.

1990 The digital CAN bus (Controller Area Network) replaced the previously standard cable harness for the first time in the Mercedes-Benz 500 E model series 124. It was a milestone in electronic networking of the car. S-Class model series 140, launched in 1991, was the first complete model range to be equipped with CAN bus. The system was a technological backbone, as was the Electronic Stability Program ESP®, which was unveiled in 1995.

1991 Speed-sensitive steering (standard in the eight-cylinder and twelve-cylinder variants of S-Class model series 140) adjusted the level of steering assistance as a function of the car’s speed, e.g. when parking.

1992 ABS and airbag became standard equipment for all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

1994 Mercedes-Benz unveiled the dynamic handling control system FDR, which was jointly developed with Bosch, in Sweden. It was launched on the market a year later as the Electronic Stability Program ESP®.

1994 Electronic Traction System (ETS) as standard equipment for the S-Class and SL-Class or optional equipment for the C-Class.

1995 World premiere of the Electronic Stability Program ESP®. It prevented the car from going into a tail-skid in critical driving situations by applying the brakes precisely at individual wheels and also intervening in the engine management system. S 600 Coupé model series 140 was equipped with ESP® as standard from May 1995. The S 600 Saloons and the SL 600 likewise equipped with V12 engine followed suit in September. ESP® was also available as an option for the V8 S-Class and SL-Class models at this time. It was additionally available for E 420 model series 210 from the market launch in January 1996.

1995 The PARKTRONIC ultrasonic parking aid was available as an option. It calculated the distance to an obstacle with the help of ultrasonic signals that were reflected by the obstacle. The ultrasonic signal transmitters and receivers were combined in sensors integrated in the front and rear bumpers.

1995 Auto Pilot System APS navigation system as optional equipment for S-Class model series 140. The Group Research unit had started making preparations back in the mid-1980s. The solution became marketable because satellite receivers dropped in price dramatically due to the demand in the civilian aviation and shipping sectors.

1995 Market launch of the intelligent rain sensor, which adjusted the wipe interval depending on the amount of rain falling on the windscreen. The solution, which had already been unveiled in the F 100 research vehicle in 1991, originated from the company’s own research laboratory.

1996 Brake Assist BAS standard for all S-Class and SL-Class models from December 1996. It detected emergency braking and, if required, built up the maximum brake boosting force automatically. This shortened the vehicle stopping distance decisively.

1996 Voice control SBS (known as LINGUATRONIC from 1997) as optional equipment.

1997 Following the “Elk Test” conducted by a Swedish magazine, deliveries of the A-Class that had started in October were put on hold for twelve weeks so that the suspension tuning could be modified and the Electronic Stability Program ESP® could be retrofitted. With these modifications on board, the A-Class fared better than its competitors, even in extreme tests.

1997 New-generation 4MATIC as permanent all-wheel drive with four-wheel traction control 4ETS for the E-Class and M-Class among others.

1997 The electronics architecture presented in the Mercedes-Benz CLK of model series 208 is a world first. For the first time, it connects all control units via three bus systems. In addition, it integrates the electronic ignition switch with key fob.

1998 Premiere of DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control. The assistance system was a first milestone in vehicle autonomy. On the basis of radar signals, the system braked and accelerated the vehicle between 40 and 160 km/h so that it maintained a set safe distance away from the vehicle in front.

1998 Headlamp Assist switched the headlamps on and off automatically, depending on the prevailing light conditions. This made life easier for the driver, especially when the light changed suddenly, e.g. when entering tunnels.

1998 Premiere of the COMAND (Cockpit Management and Data) system in S-Class model series 220.

1999 World premiere of Active Body Control ABC with active suspension system in CL Coupé model series 215. It reduced body pitching and rolling, increased safety reserves, and promoted drowsiness-free driving, even on the longest routes.

1999 ESP® as standard equipment for all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars.

2002 World premiere of PRE-SAFE® in facelifted S-Class model series 220. The anticipatory occupant protection system combined aspects of active and passive safety. Its basic principle involved using reversible measures to protect the vehicle occupants before a possible accident.

2002 Mercedes-Benz S-Class and C-Class available with 4MATIC intelligent all-wheel drive for the first time.

2003 Launch of Mercedes-Benz active light functions. Debut of the active light function in E-Class model series 211.

2005 ADAPTIVE BRAKE system in the S-Class. The newly developed braking system offered additional functions, e.g. to make hill starts easier and shorten stopping distances in the wet.

2005 Active Night View Assist introduced in S-Class model series 221. The system with infrared headlamps and camera made a larger area of the road visible in the dark. The corresponding image appeared on a display in the central instrument.

2005 Adaptive Brake Lights, also introduced in S-Class model series 221, warned drivers behind by quickly flashing the brake lights in the event of emergency braking.

2005 Brake Assist BAS PLUS warned the driver visually and acoustically about an impending rear-end collision and automatically calculated the brake pressure necessary to avoid a crash. It premiered in S-Class model series 221.

2005 Active Body Control ABC with crosswind stabilisation as optional equipment (standard equipment in the S 600).

2005 Parking Guidance, likewise introduced in S-Class model series 221, measured the length of a parking space whilst driving past, indicated whether the space is large enough, and issued instructions for parking in the instrument cluster. Alternatively, a likewise optionally available reversing camera assisted the driver and used coloured guide lines on the camera image to show the precisely calculated path for parking in the space.

2005 Enhanced COMAND system. The central control element was the new COMAND Controller on the transmission tunnel, which allowed fast access to frequently used functions. The simplified use of increasingly complex systems helped make life much easier for the driver.

2006 Pioneering technical innovations such as Active Night View Assist, the further improved proximity control system DISTRONIC PLUS, and Brake Assist BAS PLUS were linked to the PRE-SAFE® Brake with autonomous partial braking and extended.

2006 Premiere of the Intelligent Light System in E-Class model series 211, featuring five different light functions. The enhanced active light function was joined by country road mode, motorway mode, the enhanced fog light function, and the cornering light function.

2007 The optionally available Blind Spot Assist used radar to monitor the area directly beside and behind the car. It warned the driver if changing lane was too dangerous.

2008 Active Parking Assist helped the driver with finding a parking space and with reverse parking. The vehicle monitored its surroundings using ten ultrasonic sensors and provided steering assistance when parking. The driver was responsible for braking and acceleration among other things.

2009 After the audible warning and autonomous partial braking, the PRE-SAFE® Brake built up the maximum braking force for autonomous emergency braking shortly before an imminent rear-end collision if the driver had still failed to react.

2009 ATTENTION ASSIST detected typical signs of driver drowsiness and inattention based on steering behaviour and then emitted visual and audible warnings.

2009 Adaptive Highbeam Assist switched between high and low beam automatically to ensure an optimum headlamp range at all times.

2009 Lane Keeping Assist warned the driver against leaving the lane unintentionally. To do this, a camera on the inside of the windscreen registered the lane markings and detected when the vehicle departed from its lane. It warned the driver by making the steering wheel vibrate.

2009 Speed Limit Assist used a camera and intelligent image processing to detect speed limit signs in real time and indicate the current speed limit to the driver on the central instrument.

2010 Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist extended the capabilities of Mercedes-Benz digital assistance systems. Active Blind Spot Assist corrected the direction of travel by applying the brakes if the vehicle got too close to the vehicle in the adjacent lane despite warnings. Active Lane Keeping Assist prevented the vehicle from crossing continuous lines unintentionally.

2011 Mercedes-Benz assistance systems featured more and more functions and grew increasingly closer together. Examples included extended PRE-SAFE® functions such as PRE-SAFE® PLUS for protecting the occupants in the event of an imminent rear collision, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST, and Night View Assist Plus with spotlight function.

2012 Premiere of the 360 degree camera in the GL and GLK. It provided an at-a-glance view of all the vehicle surroundings. To to this, the system combined the images from four cameras and used this to calculate a view that appeared on the COMAND display.

2012 Crosswind Assist introduced in the then GL used the ESP® sensor system to register strong crosswind effects and applied the brakes where needed to assist the driver.

2013 The highly automated Mercedes-Benz S 500 INTELLIGENT DRIVE covered the historical route from Mannheim to Pforzheim completed by Bertha Benz in 1888.

2013 Intelligent Drive incorporating a wealth of assistance systems such as DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, PRE-SAFE® PLUS, PRE-SAFE® Impulse, MAGIC BODY CONTROL, and Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus.

2014 At a speed of up to 100 km/h, COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS was able to perform autonomous braking if the driver failed to react and thus reduce the impact severity or even prevent a collision. The system also braked ahead of stationary vehicles at up to around 50 km/h.

2014 MULTIBEAM LED in the CLS-Class. Each headlamp consisted of 24 individually controlled high-performance light emitting diodes (LEDs).

2016 Premiere of new systems in Mercedes-Benz E-Class model series 213, including the following functions: Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC with Active Steering Assist and Active Lane Change Assist as well as extensive driving assistance up to 210 km/h and active steering up to 130 km/h, Active Speed Limit Assist, Active Lane Change Assist, Active Emergency Stop Assist, Active Brake Assist with cross-traffic function, Evasive Steering Assist, PRE-SAFE® Sound, and PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side. ATTENTION ASSIST with adjustable sensitivity and Crosswind Assist augmented the extensive range of driver assistance systems.

2016 Remote Parking Assist enabled the driver to move the car into and out of garages and parking spaces from outside the vehicle using a smartphone app.

2016 The world’s first fully integrated Car-to-X solution: vehicle communication with other vehicles and the infrastructure by means of secure cloud functions.

2017 Extended range of functions: Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist now provided the driver with even more convenient assistance while maintaining a distance from the vehicle in front and when steering. Active Speed Limit Assist now automatically adjusted the car’s speed when cornering and before junctions. This was accompanied by enhanced Active Lane Change Assist and additional Active Emergency Stop Assist functions.

2017 MULTIBEAM LED headlamps with ULTRA RANGE Highbeam allowed extremely fast and precise adjustment of the headlamps to suit the current driving situation. The ULTRA RANGE Highbeam gave the main-beam headlamps a particularly long range.

2017 Premiere of the enhanced version of MAGIC VISION CONTROL introduced in 2012. The adaptive windscreen cleaning system now adapted the washer fluid quantity to the environmental conditions and the driver’s requirements automatically. The fluid emerged through water guides integrated on both sides along the wiper blade with minute spraying holes drilled by laser beam.

2017 Concept EQ navigation based on the HERE map platform and offering a unique 3D view. The system used Nvidia image processing technology for this. Points of interest graphically highlighted on the 3D display. The design of the HERE maps reduces the visual complexity, enabling the driver to discern the information relevant to him or her more quickly and process it more effectively.

2018 After five months, the Mercedes-Benz Intelligent World Drive ends at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. A test vehicle based on the current S-Class has completed a demanding experimental trip on five continents to “ learn” in automated test drives in real-life traffic.

2018 The Mercedes-Benz User Experience MBUX is an all-new multimedia system that creates an emotional bond between vehicle, driver and passengers. What’s more, it has the ability to learn thanks to artificial intelligence. Here Mercedes-Benz is the world’s first automotive manufacturer to use what3words technology: just three spoken words are enough to clearly pinpoint any place in the world, to an accuracy of a square measuring three metres by three metres. MBUX with natural language comprehension (LINGUATRONIC) and activation by saying “Hey Mercedes” (optional) makes its debut in A-Class model series 177. It has its premiere at the CES in Las Vegas in January 2018. It will be introduced successively for other model series, too.

2018 The new Mercedes-Benz A-Class represents the democratisation of technology at the highest level across the entire Mercedes-Benz model range. It features the latest driving assistance systems with cooperative driver support and thus offers the highest level of active safety in its segment with functions from the S-Class: The A-Class can drive semi-autonomously in certain situations for the first time.