From showcase to showroom – how onto the road
Night View Assist, a new system that uses infrared technology to display an image of the road ahead, is one of several cutting-edge innovations in the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class and CL-Class.
|All Mercedes-Benz Research Cars (1981-2003)||1991 – Mercedes-Benz C112 Concept|
This night-vision system was first seen in the F500 Mind research car of 2003 and can improve the driver’s night time visibility by up to 125 per cent, compared with traditional halogen headlamps.
These luxury models also feature a programmable multivision dashboard display, developed from the F500 Mind, as well as DISTRONIC Plus, an adaptive radar-guided cruise control system derived from the 1991 F100 research car.
This uses a radar sensor in the front grille to keep the car a safe distance from the vehicle in front – even in stop-start traffic.
The F100 research vehicle showcased several Mercedes-Benz innovations including a sandwich floor, designed so that in the event of a frontal impact the engine would effectively be forced under the floor to avoid injury to the driver and passengers.
Six years later, the revolutionary sandwich floor was integral to the design of the 1997 A-Class.
The 1995 S-Class Saloon also featured technological advances adapted from the F100 research car, including gas-discharge (xenon) headlights, which give clearer and brighter light projection, and a rain sensor, which automatically activates the windscreen wipers when needed.
The S-Class was also the first production car to feature the Mercedes-Benz navigation system, showcased in the 1995 Vario Research Car. Initially restricted to central London, current COMAND navigation systems cover the whole of western Europe.
Xenon headlights, auto wipers and satellite navigation have been fitted as standard to a number of Mercedes-Benz models, and are now becoming commonplace in other vehicles.
In the same year as showing the F100, Mercedes-Benz also unveiled the high-performance C 112 research car, with Active Body Control (ABC), first introduced to a production vehicle – the CL-Class – in 1999.
The active suspension system uses a network of sensors around the car to measure and control body motion to make the ride smoother and virtually eliminate body roll whilst cornering, accelerating and braking. The latest version of ABC made its debut in the New Generation SL-Class Roadster earlier in 2006, and will also feature in next year’s CL-Class.
The radical F300 Life Jet three-wheeler of 1997 was not only a departure for Mercedes-Benz in proving that its designs are not limited to four-wheels, but was also the first vehicle to feature a sensor to automatically turn on the headlights, which was used in the 1998 S-Class, and is now standard on most Mercedes models.
|1997 F300 Life Jet||1996 F200 Imagination Concept|
The system constantly monitors and adapts to the ambient light conditions, activating the headlights accordingly.
The new Intelligent Light System, featured on the new CL-Class and S-Class models, has five different lighting functions and is derived from the system in the 1996 F200 Imagination concept car.
The previously unseen Brake Assist Plus, which is constantly monitoring for an impending collision, made its debut in these new models, just as Electronic Stablility Program (ESP®) was first seen in the 1995 S-Class.
2006 – Mercedes-Benz F600 HyGenius
The most recent research vehicle, the 2006 F600 HYGENIUS, features a fuel-cell drive system and the most advanced PRE-SAFE occupant protection system yet.
With a range of some 250 miles and power output equivalent to 115 hp, the advanced fuel-cell system represents another ground-breaking Mercedes-Benz innovation that could become a production reality in the next decade.
With constant, world-leading advancements in vehicle technology, the future holds more exciting innovations for the next generation of Mercedes-Benz cars.
Some of the technology first featured on Mercedes-Benz concepts, and now on the road includes:
- Active Body Control (ABC) – first in 1991 C 112, then in 1999 CL-Class*
- Active hydro-pneumatics with new ABC system – seen in 2001 F400 Carving*
- Automatic seat and steering wheel adjust – seen in 1991 F100, then in 1991 S-Class*
- Autonomous intelligent cruise control – first in the 1991 F100, then in 1999 S-Class*
- Colour display – first in 1995 Vario Research Car, then in 1998 S-Class*
- Distance warning radar – seen in 1991 F100, then in 2005 S-Class*
- Electric parking brake – seen in 1991 F100, then in 2005 S-Class*
- Electronic braking system – first in 2001 F400 Carving, then in 2001
- Electronic tyre pressure monitor – seen in 1991 F100, then 1999 S-Class*
- Electro-transparent panoramic roof – first in the 1996 F200 Imagination, then in 2002 Maybach
- Front-wheel drive – first seen in the 1995 Vario Research Car, then in 1997 A-Class*
- Gas-discharge headlights – first in the 1991 F100, then in 1995 S-Class*
- High-performance LED indicators – seen in 2001 F400 Carving, then in 1998 S-Class mirrors*
- Keyless entry – first in the 1991 F100, then in 1999 S-Class*
- LED lights – first in 2001 F400 Carving, then in 2002 E-Class and 2003 SLR McLaren*
- Light sensor – first in 1997 F300 Life Jet, then in 1998 S-Class*
- Mobile phone voice recognition – first in the 1996 F200 Imagination, then in 1996 S-Class*
- Navigation system – first in 1995 Vario Research Car, then in 1995 S-Class*
- Night vision system – first in the 2003 F500 Mind, then in 2005 S-Class*
- Optical fibres to transmit signals – seen in 1991 F100, then in 1998 S-Class*
- Rain sensor – first in the 1991 F100, then in 1995 S-Class*
- Reversing camera – seen in 1991 F100, then in 2002 Maybach*
- Rotary central electronics control – seen in 1995 Vario Research Car, then in 2005 S-Class*
- Run flat tyres – seen in 1991 F100, then in 2003 E-Class*
- Sandwich floor – first in the 1991 F100, then in 1997 A-Class*
- Solar cell roof – seen in 1991 F100, then in 2002 Maybach*
- Space-frame carbon fibre body – seen in 2001 F400 Carving. The 2003 SLR McLaren uses a carbon fibre body and monocoque
- Swivelling gullwing doors – first in the 1996 F200 Imagination, then in 2003 SLR McLaren
- Variable distribution headlights – first in the 1996 F200 Imagination, then in 2003 E-Class*
* These features are now widely available across other models in the Mercedes-Benz passenger car range