The World Health Organization intends to cut the number of fatalities and injuries on roads in half by 2020. Moreover, the EU has set itself the target of reducing the number of traffic deaths in Europe to nearly zero by 2050.

Automakers can help society achieve these goals by equipping their vehicles with safety systems. By contrast, the ability of automakers to influence driving behavior and traffic infrastructure is limited.

Daimler intends to significantly increase safety in road traffic by means of state-of-the-art driver assistance systems and vehiclebased protection systems, always with the vision of accident-free driving in mind.

Daimler became a pioneer in digital assistance systems when it introduced the anti-lock braking system 40 years ago — and our success story in this field continues to this day. Here are a few examples:

Top marks in safety testing. Mercedes-Benz models repeatedly earn top marks in safety tests. Of particular note in this regard are the top marks we regularly receive from the American Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). The IIHS assesses both crash-safety features and accident-prevention systems. Stringent requirements for vehicle lights were introduced for the 2018 model year, and Mercedes-Benz vehicles have done an excellent job of meeting them. The Mercedes-Benz E-Class, the GLC and the GLE, for example, received the highly coveted Top Safety Pick+ award in the year under review, while the C-Class also did very well, being named a Top Safety Pick.

Outstanding safety in the new GLE. The new GLE, which we presented at the Mondial de l’Automobile in Paris at the beginning of October 2018, puts the latest generation of driving assistance systems on the road. With this model, we have done more than just raise the level of vehicle safety even further relative to the predecessor model: Several system functions were also unique in the SUV segment at the time the vehicle was unveiled. One example involves tailback management. With the Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC system, the new GLE can detect and react to traffic jams or traffic congestion before the driver even sees a problem. Once the system detects a jam, it reduces the vehicle’s speed to 100 km/h, which gives the Active Stop-and-Go Assist feature enough time to brake the car to a standstill before it reaches the traffic jam.

Active Stop-and-Go Assist can also significantly ease the burden on drivers in heavy traffic. If lane markings are present, the system can largely keep the vehicle in lane and maintain a safe distance to the car ahead at a speed of up to 60 km/h, and it can even help create an emergency lane for rescue crews in the event of an accident. It does this by evaluating the road category, vehicle speed, and the distances to vehicles traveling ahead and in adjacent lanes. Active Stop-and-Go Assist also uses the Stereo Multi Purpose Camera (SMPC) and radar to detect cars cutting in front of the vehicle. Once a traffic jam dissolves, DISTRONIC takes over and either accelerates back up to the speed preset by the driver or else speeds up to 130 km/h, which is the recommended speed on major German highways.

Intelligent Drive in the new A-Class. The new A-Class, which was presented in 2018, is equipped with the latest generation of driving assistance systems and thus attains a very high level of active safety in its segment. For the first time, the A-Class can now also drive in a partially automated mode in certain situations. Assistance systems such as Daimler’s Active Blind Spot Assist are being used for the first time ever in the A Class. This system features an exit warning function that issues an acoustic alarm and, in the case of ambient lighting, also a visual warning if a road user is detected in the blind spot when the door is opened while the vehicle is at a standstill. Our Intelligent Drive safety philosophy is thus now being implemented in the compact class for the first time. The aim of this philosophy is to connect all driving and safety systems in an automobile, thus merging comfort and safety once and for all.

The sensors that supply the data needed for these functions form a tightly knit network in the vehicle. A particularly important component here is the Stereo Multi Purpose Camera (SMPC), which Mercedes-Benz is introducing simultaneously with the Intelligent Drive concept. The camera can spatially detect objects and pedestrians with the help of two lenses that enable three-dimensional vision. Optical detection here is supplemented by various radars and ultrasonic sensors.

Sprinter with a comprehensive safety package. The new Sprinter boasts the latest generation of safety technology, including the radarbased Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC system and Active Lane Keeping Assist. Also on board the van as standard equipment is Crosswind Assist, which significantly increases safety at high speeds in particular. The range of assistance systems is rounded out by the modular Parking Package, whose numerous sensors and reversing camera images on the multimedia display make parking and pulling out of spaces considerably easier. The Parking Package with 360-degree imaging actually includes four cameras that enable the multimedia display to show an all-round, bird’s eye view of the van. The optional Blind Spot Assist system provides additional warnings when obstacles are detected.

Van Training teaches safe driving. Van Training courses were held once again throughout Germany in 2018. Participants at 57 special driver training centers were able to practice in different situations the proper use of the safety systems available in Mercedes-Benz vans — ranging from the Citan to the Vito, V-Class, and the Sprinter in a crewbus, panel van, crewcab and box-body version. Several X-Class pickups were also part of the training program for the first time in 2018. More than 50,000 drivers have participated in the “Van Training on Tour” program since it was launched in 2003.

Greater truck safety. Trucks are repeatedly involved in accidents — for example rear-end collisions at the end of traffic jams and accidents that injure pedestrians or bike riders when truck drivers fail to see them while making turns. For Daimler, every accident is one too many. That is why our researchers and developers work continuously to create and systematically improve accident-prevention systems. We are supported in our efforts here by policies that increase the technical requirements for such systems. For example, within the framework of its revision of the EU directive on the general safety of motor vehicles, the European Commission has proposed, among other things, that turning assistance systems be made mandatory for all trucks and buses beginning in 2024.

We have been offering such assistance systems in our commercial vehicles since 2016. We were the first manufacturer to do so and, as things stand now, we are still the only one. Today our Sideguard Assist system can be ordered for more than 20 vehicle variants. In 2018, one out of every four Mercedes-Benz trucks delivered in Germany was equipped with it. During the year under review, the Mercedes-Benz Econic was added to the list of vehicles equipped with our Sideguard Assist system, and the model now also features Active Brake Assist 4 with pedestrian recognition. Active Brake Assist 4 is the world’s first assistance system for trucks that warns drivers of an impending collision with moving pedestrians and can also automatically initiate a partial braking maneuver.

The Actros with Active Brake Assist 5. The new Actros is equipped with Active Brake Assist 5. A new feature here involves interaction between the radar and the camera systems. This interaction enables Active Brake Assist 5 to react more effectively to pedestrians than Active Brake Assist 4 in a speed range of up to 50 km/h. Within the limits of the system, Active Brake Assist 5 can react to people crossing a road, approaching the truck or walking in the truck’s lane. A multi-stage warning system engages if such a situation occurs. If the driver fails to react, Active Brake Assist 5 initiates emergency braking within the limits of the system. This is also done if a pedestrian who is not paying attention steps out in front of the vehicle and becomes scared and disoriented and fails to get out of the way.

First partially automated assistance system in a series-production truck. With Active Drive Assist, we are now offering the first partially automated (Level 2) assistance system in a series-production truck. Active Drive Assist enables partially automated driving in all speed ranges for the driver of a series-produced truck. The new features here are active lateral control and the combination of longitudinal and lateral control, which is made possible by the fusion of radar and camera information. Active Drive Assist enables an interplay between the Proximity Control Assist system with its stop-and-go function and Active Lane Keeping Assist. Although the driver is still responsible for monitoring the traffic situation, the system provides significant relief to him or her and makes an important contribution to increasing road safety.

The outside-mirror camera, which replaces the conventional exterior mirrors in the Actros, is another new feature in a series-production truck. In this system, digital cameras and displays expand the driver’s field of vision, thus enhancing safety even further.

Level 2 automation technology in the Freightliner Cascadia. Daimler Trucks North America also plans to introduce SAE Level 2 partial automation technology in the North American market for the first time in the new Freightliner Cascadia in 2019.

Developments in Level 4 automation technology. Daimler Trucks has announced plans to unveil strategic developments related to Level 4 technology for highly automated driving in 2019. Level 4 refers to a situation in which the use of sophisticated technology means that a driver doesn’t necessarily need to be in a vehicle but can still control the vehicle in certain situations — for example at traffic hubs, in urban areas, or during loading and unloading operations. In the first step, use cases will be limited to long-distance hub-to-hub trips in the USA. Highly automated Level 4 trucks offer numerous advantages, with safety topping the list. Varied state-of-the-art sensor technologies, system redundancies and software programs based on artificial intelligence will make the trucks of the future even safer and also reduce the human-error factor in accidents. Level 4 technology also offers considerable benefits for customers, including greater productivity through the elimination of rest periods for drivers, which makes it possible for trucks to operate around the clock. In addition, the technology significantly lowers the cost of each kilometer — or mile — driven. The goal with regard to Level 4 technology is to make highly automated driving a reality in series-production trucks within the next ten years.

New assistance systems in buses. Active Brake Assist in Mercedes-Benz and Setra touring coaches celebrated an anniversary in the year under review, as the system has been helping to prevent accidents in the coaches for ten years now. The next step will involve the across-the-board introduction of Active Brake Assist 4 (ABA 4), which will be launched as standard equipment in all Mercedes-Benz and Setra touring coaches beginning in 2019.

The system’s counterpart for city buses is the new Preventive Brake Assist, which is the first active braking assistance system to be introduced in this vehicle class anywhere in the world. The system warns of a potential collision with moving pedestrians as well as with stationary or moving objects and then automatically initiates partial braking. Partial braking is more gentle than emergency braking and thus lowers the risk of injury to bus passengers. However, the driver can still intervene at any time and initiate emergency braking if the situation requires it.

Sideguard Assist, the first turning assistance system for buses, uses radar sensors to monitor the lane to the right of a bus along the vehicle’s entire length. It thus assists the driver in the vehicle’s blind spot and warns him or her of pedestrians and bike riders when the coach is about to turn.

All-round safety in an electric bus. Safety is taken to a new level in the eCitaro. The onboard voltage of the eCitaro has a range of up to 750 volts, which means that both service center personnel and rescue services need to be prepared for such voltage. The OMNIplus service brand has therefore developed an all-around service concept for the new eCitaro that includes a demonstration service center repair shop and expanded Guidelines for Rescue Services. The service center repair shop makes it possible for technicians to learn how to safely handle high-voltage components. The rescue guidelines for buses with the Mercedes star have been an important component of our Integral Safety concept for several years now. The guidelines provide specific information about all city, intercity, and touring coach model series, as well as details of the diverse range of drive systems used, including natural gas and electric drive systems. The guidelines can be downloaded from our website.

Fire extinguishing system protects bus passengers. With its new S 531 DT double-decker bus, Setra is presenting the first touring coach fitted with a fire extinguishing system in the engine compartment as standard equipment. In the event of detected danger, the system issues visual and acoustic warnings within seconds to the driver in the cockpit. At the same time, the pressurized detection line bursts and sprays an extinguishing mixture that cools down the engine compartment and prevents the flames from reigniting. With this system, the three-axle bus already meets the requirements of a law mandating the installation of fire extinguishing systems in newly registered touring coaches, which will go into effect in July 2019.

OMNIplus driver training. OMNIplus, the service brand for Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses, has been teaching bus drivers how to recognize and avoid hazards and accidents for 25 years now. More than 700 drivers on average take part in OMNIplus safety training courses throughout Germany each year. All in all, more than 18,000 drivers of touring coaches, city buses and school buses have successfully completed the training courses to date.

Crash tests at TFS Sindelfingen. We are conducting extensive research into vehicle safety at our state-of-the-art technology center for vehicle safety (TFS) in Sindelfingen. Among other things, our activities at the center focus on safety testing for vehicle concepts that utilize alternative drive systems. Technicians and engineers in the new crash-test hall at TFS can perform around 900 crash tests each year, as well as approximately 1,700 sled tests. The crash-test hall, which is roofed over without any supports, measures 90 x 90 meters, making it larger than an international soccer field.

X-ray technology improves crash test results. In cooperation with the Fraunhofer Institute for High-Speed Dynamics, the Ernst Mach Institute (EMI) in Freiburg, Daimler’s vehicle safety unit, is testing the use of X-ray technology for crash tests. The ultrashort-duration X-rays are expected to supply extremely sharp stills of crash tests. This method would enable us to investigate the behavior of safety-related components by taking a look inside the parts. The data from the “X-ray crashes” could be combined with computer-aided simulation models. This might help to further improve the reliability of crash simulation forecasts.