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Building a better driver

The latest generation of safety systems will impact your shop
Thursday, August 15, 2013 - 13:03
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A decade ago when auto manufacturers shifted their focus to active safety systems, industry analysts began extrapolating where this trend could eventually lead. Some began mulling about a day when vehicles and smart transportation systems would handle the vast majority of driving duties. In this scenario, computers would plot out and instigate the safest, most efficient travel plans, potentially eliminating accidents – or, at the very least, seriously diminishing the root causes of most crashes, human error.

Indeed, some very early active safety systems proved their efficacy in taking vehicle control away from the driver – most notably those that, on their own, could cut vehicle power and adjust the brakes in an emergency braking situation.

Ten years down the road, this trend has taken a different turn. Instead of removing driver control, the latest safety systems are geared towards creating better drivers by providing more road information feedback and greater vehicle control.

Let’s take a look at the most significant of these systems and consider how they’ll impact the way your shop handles repairs.

Bavarian beginnings
Advanced safety innovations take years of development and a significant investment to bring to market, which is why they typically turn up in luxury models first before they go mainstream. Though other brands have built reputations on providing the best possible driving experience, Mercedes Benz lately has been particularly successful in bringing some of the most compelling, and potentially significant, safety innovations into the auto market.

Three systems use cameras to provide drivers with some extra help when navigating multi-lane roads. Lane Keeping Assist utilizes a special camera that tracks lane markings on pavement. If it senses that a driver is drifting out of a lane, it vibrates the steering wheel.

Mercedes’ Night View Assist PLUS provides a real-time view of dark roads that can single out pedestrians.

Adaptive Highbeam Assist uses a dedicated camera to scan the road ahead for the lights of other vehicles. Based on their calculated position, the system varies the headlamps infinitely through an array of light settings (not simply between high and low beams) to maximize illumination without causing glare that can blind other drivers.

Night View Assist PLUS utilizes a camera along with invisible infrared beams to display a supplemental, real-time view of a dark road. If it detects a pedestrian, it can point that person out and even shine the headlamps towards him or her. Unlike thermal systems, it also can sense “cold objects.”

To help drivers gain a clearer view of darkened roadways without a special camera, Mercedes offers Active Full-LED headlamps, which generate light the company says is closer to natural daylight than any lighting technology in production. These headlamps also can instantly reconfigure their beam patterns in response to a driver’s steering and speed and to other traffic.

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