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Old 28th April 2010, 16:33   #1
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Default Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip

Mercedes has always been one of the pioneers in the field of automobile safety. In the 1920s, they were the first manufacturer to put brakes on all four wheels of a car and they have kept with that tradition of making no compromises on safety ever since.

This weekend Mercedes organized a "StarDrive" event to showcase some of the safety technology that is packed into their current C-Class and E-Class cars. Passengers got to ride along for a series of runs up and down the runway at the Juhu Aerodrome, demoing the ABS, ESP, and PRE-SAFE technologies.

Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip-img_3565-custom.jpg


If you've ever driven a Benz or any other "loaded" car hard enough, chances are you've already come face to face with these technologies in the real world. Perhaps you were thankful, or maybe even a bit startled. At the demo event, we were told ahead of time what exactly would happen on each run, and had a chance to sit through it as a passenger and take notice of exactly what was happening.



The technologies that were showcased :

ABS (Anti-Lock Braking System)
ABS has been around for decades now and is fairly well known. It has even made its way down to the smallest hatches available on sale in India. Simply put, when a wheel is locked (not spinning) and therefore skidding, steering input has virtually no effect in changing the direction of the car. ABS prevents the wheel from getting completely locked, by rapidly releasing the brakes several times a second. This gives the driver the ability to control the car's direction by steering, even during extreme braking.
In ideal conditions, ABS can also decrease the braking distance. In conditions such as dirt, snow, gravel etc - ABS is known to increase stopping distances. Mercedes countered this with a special ABS system in their SUVs and 4x4 vehicles, which allows the wheel to lock for longer between each release, therefore improving stopping distances in those conditions as well.

ESP (Electronic Stability Program)
In plainspeak, what this does is keeps the car going where you want it to, even during sudden high speed maneuvers or in adverse conditions where understeer or oversteer could dramatically alter the course of the car.
ESP monitors the steering angle, which indicates where the driver is trying to go. It then compares that course with data it gets from its sensors on individual wheel speed, lateral acceleration, yaw rate etc. and decides the intervention required to keep the car's actual course as close as possible to the driver's intended course. The ESP system applies the required braking force to wheels individually of each other, which helps keeps the car on track and prevent a spinout.

For example, if you are understeering while taking a left-hander, ESP might brake the rear left wheel slightly in order to get the car to hold the desired line.
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PRE-SAFE
It's human nature to actively protect or brace yourself when you think you're in danger. Why can't a car do the same?
That's exactly what Pre-Safe is. It senses the likelihood of an accident based on the existing sensors and input data of the car, and then networks together various components to brace the occupants for a possible collision in the few seconds it might have before impact.
• Seatbelts pre-tension to minimize occupant movement before/during the crash
• Windows roll up automatically to keep occupants limbs / extremities safe in a rollover
• Sunroof closes up as well if there is a possibility of a rollover
• If closed, the sunroof and windows open by about an inch so as to prevent extreme pressure change in the cabin when the airbags inflate!
• The seatback angle is adjusted for the front passenger for best positioning during an accident. The driver's seat is not adjusted - probably so as to not surprise him or affect his handling the car
• Active headrests move forward to minimize whiplash injuries
• When available, bolsters in the seat cushions and backrests inflate to provide protection and keep the occupants in an ideal position for the crash

Active head-restraint shown moving forwards :
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PRE-SAFE BRAKE is an add-on to this system which monitors the distance between the car and objects ahead of it, and sounds a warning or applies the brakes when danger is sensed. This is not available on the Mercedes cars in India at the moment. It would probably go nuts in our driving conditions anyway!

Pics Source :
Neck-restraint Pic
ESP Pic

Last edited by Rehaan : 28th April 2010 at 17:12.
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Old 28th April 2010, 16:33   #2
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Now, for the demo!

The track was wet down a little, in order to help showcase the ESP system better during a fast lane-change.
Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip-img_3555-custom.jpg

The E-Class and C-Class waited patiently as this was done.
They were driven by rallyist Sunny Sidhu in the C, and Bhalinder Sangha of Sangha Motorcraft in the E.
Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip-img_3557-custom.jpg


We were taken for a couple of runs up and down the strip, and went through the following :
1) ABS (straightline braking)
2) High speed lane change with ESP ON
3) High speed lane change with ESP OFF! (less safe, but more fun in this case!) NOTE : ESP will turn itself back on if things get extreme.
4) PRE-SAFE demo

Watch the video to see it all happen :


Last edited by Rehaan : 1st November 2011 at 16:39. Reason: YT fix
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Old 28th April 2010, 16:44   #3
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As a second part of this event, Mercedes had set up a demo of its 4x4 technologies.

Heres a link to GTO's report on that : LINK (Demonstration of 4x4 Tech at the "Mercedes StarDrive Event")

cya
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Last edited by Rehaan : 28th April 2010 at 16:47.
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Old 28th April 2010, 17:12   #4
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Super report, Rehaan! I can't believe that I initially presumed this to be a boring event. Man, it was the best 90 minute start to any day (event began at 0830 in the morning).

I thoroughly enjoyed watching the GL on the makeshift 4x4 track, but this safety demonstration was something else! Bhalinder in the white E Class had sheer skill...accurately letting the car slide, and then catching it back (non-ESP mode). Though once, he did unintentionally let her go . The difference between ESP on and off modes was astounding. One noteworthy point about Mercs : Except for the AMGs, you can't really switch the ESP off. Even if you do, the system will still kick back in, automatically, when the loss of grip is substantial.

The E & S Class may have lost the classic & timeless "Benz" looks, and their reliability taken a hit, but they are without a doubt the safest sedans one can cruise in today. The safety standards of Mercedes Benz is the primary reason why my family uses the C220 for 9 / 10 highway drives. Safety is all the more important in the Indian context where more people die of accidents than cancer (IIRC) each year. Indian roads, especially highways, are full of lunatics!

Merc deserves full credit for even a humble WagonR being now equipped with crumple zones, ABS & airbag systems. It's probably not too long before traction control makes its way to <10 lakh rupee cars.
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Old 28th April 2010, 18:15   #5
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Good report and good to see Merc doing Technology demonstration. Really good initiative. More about the history of ESC/ESP
Electronic stability control - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

But, I want to see the Indian market mature somehow. Just a comparison of the Toyota Corolla.

US Spec: base model ($15450)
Standard Safety Features:
Driver front airbag and front passenger airbag with Advanced Airbag System.
Driver and front passenger front seat-mounted side airbags and front and rear side curtain airbags
Active headrests
4-wheel anti-lock brake system (ABS) with Electronic Brake-Force Distribution (EBD) and Brake Assist
Direct Tire Pressure Monitor System (TPMS)
Vehicle Stability Control (VSC) and Traction Control (TRAC) with off switch
LATCH (Lower Anchors and Tethers for Children) for outboard rear seating positions only
(More: Toyota Corolla 2010 Models: Corolla, LE, XLE, S and XRS models)

Indian Spec: top model (1.8GL) (Rs. 1,287,900 (Delhi))
SRS Air Bags (Driver + Passenger) (Not present in the base model)
ABS With EBD
Whiplash Injury Lessening Seats (Driver Side) (whatever that means - no active head restraints)

(More: Toyota - Corolla)

I deliberately compared the base US spec model and top end Indian model. And also took Delhi prices, where it's almost the cheapest. Here, if you see the difference in safety equipment, the trend is evident.
When will safety be a norm in India? God knows.
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Old 28th April 2010, 19:32   #6
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Just awesome. I was not aware of features like Pre-Safe (in the first place), let alone knowing that Merc had this. Increases my respect for Merc even more.
OK, the windows and sun roof leave an inch gap while closing, so can I assume that if the windows and sunroof are closed (probably using AC), will the windows and sun roof open an inch?
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Old 29th April 2010, 11:43   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GTO View Post
....One noteworthy point about Mercs : Except for the AMGs, you can't really switch the ESP off. Even if you do, the system will still kick back in, automatically, when the loss of grip is substantial...
I remember you mentioning this, and then that night itself i was watching Discovery turbo at a friends house and Tiff Needell was taking a ML 63 AMG around a wet track. He mentioned that the ESP still interfered when he was about to spin out, and the Merc engineers had to enter a secret code (which they did not show on tv) to completely turn the ESP off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by vasanthn21 View Post
...OK, the windows and sun roof leave an inch gap while closing, so can I assume that if the windows and sunroof are closed (probably using AC), will the windows and sun roof open an inch?
I believe this will happen, though did not notice it during the demo.

Another advantage of the windows opening slightly is to ventilate the cabin after the airbags deploy, since it is a chemical explosion.

To quote a recent Cedia accident thread on TBHP :

Quote:
Originally Posted by Maibaa View Post
...There was lot of smoke inside the car and a strange smell of chemical due to the deployment of airbags. Quickly I regained my senses and got out of the car....
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Old 29th April 2010, 15:07   #8
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Nice show off session of the safety features, it's amazing how technology can save lives.
Great videos !!
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Old 5th May 2010, 10:43   #9
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One thing that i haven't seen mentioned anywhere, which i think would be a good feature would be linking the parktronic / distronic / (pre-safe brake) with a seat-belt pre-tensioners.

Perhaps that exists on the pre-safe brake equipped cars, but i'm sure it could be made to work on the others too.

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Old 5th May 2010, 14:26   #10
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Good report.

However, is there any official database somewhere in the automotive industry about the credits for each innovation?

"Class leading", "Best in class", "pioneer" etc are words which have their meaning diluted these days...Volvo claims to be the safety pioneer and so does Daimler...I also saw some advertisements run by GM in the print media about how they are the pioneers...

It reminds me of the top 5 IT companies of our country - each of them claims to be the pioneers of "offshore development center" concept... :-)
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Old 5th May 2010, 15:40   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
However, is there any official database somewhere in the automotive industry about the credits for each innovation?
Not that i know of, however, heres a timeline i came across w.r.t safety features : Automotive Safety Milestones

And wikipedia has a section on their MB page detailing MB's innovations : Mercedes-Benz - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Quote:
Originally Posted by anandpadhye View Post
"Class leading", "Best in class", "pioneer" etc are words which have their meaning diluted these days...
Absolutely. I'm always skeptical when i hear something is "the first", "the best", "#1", etc -- however, there's no doubt that Mercedes has been "one of the pioneers in the field of automobile safety." I chose those words very carefully

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Old 5th May 2010, 15:47   #12
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Great video; seeing in believing. My colleague was watching this too and was saying 'eh? when you see the shot from interior of the car everything looks normal ! '

Check this; helps you understand what ABS, ESP is all about.
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Old 4th February 2011, 15:34   #13
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Default Re: Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip

Hey guys,

sorry for bumping up this year old thread but wanted to know who all are coming for Round 2 of the Star Drive event? Kinda hoping to get a drive in the SLS, if its coming this time. What say?

Best,
Sanjeev
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Old 5th February 2011, 14:08   #14
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Default Re: Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip

Sanjeev, when is the event scheduled for? I still haven't heard about it in Bombay. Yeah, a ride in the SLS AMG will be . Though I don't know if they'll use it for a safety demo, considering Merc would want to showcase its more everyday cars instead.
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Old 5th February 2011, 16:08   #15
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Default Re: Mercedes Safety Tech Demo - At the Mumbai Airstrip

Is this an "open to public" sort of event?
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