Daimler HighTechReport: The Fascination of Technology - Issue 02/2008 - PART III


Stuttgart, Nov 25, 2008


Daimler and RWE Launch World’s Largest Electric Car Project

Berlin is putting electricity in its tank: More than 100 electric vehicles and 500 charging stations have been made available to the German capital as part of the “e-mobility Berlin” project, which was officially unveiled at the beginning of September by the chairmen of Daimler and RWE, Dieter Zetsche and Jürgen Großmann, in the presence of German Chancellor Angela Merkel and VDA president Matthias Wissmann (photo).

Daimler is providing the electric automobiles from Mercedes-Benz and smart; the company will also service the vehicles. RWE is responsible for the development, creation, and operation of a network of charging stations, and will also manage the power supply and the overall system. Payment for battery charging is handled by a special communication system in the vehicles that transmits data to the intelligent charging stations. The unique, cross-sector partnership thus pools the expertise of two key industries.

Daimler will contribute its wealth of experience, in particular its findings from many years of successful research and development work in the field of zero-emission vehicles based on electric drive and battery technologies. Besides the new-generation smart ed (electric drive), several battery-powered Mercedes-Benz vehicles are also being employed in the project, one of whose key innovations is a lithium-ion battery that was specifically developed for automotive applications. This technology greatly improves a vehicle’s range compared with conventional batteries, while also speeding up the recharging time. Batteries will also become smaller and lighter as a result.

Daimler will introduce lithium-ion battery technology into series production next year in its Mercedes-Benz S 400 BlueHYBRID.

M-Class: Top Marks for Safety

The new-generation Mercedes-Benz M-Class has passed European NCAP (New Car Assessment Programme) crash tests with flying colors. In recognition of this performance and its exceptional occupant protection features, it received the maximum rating of five stars.

The sport utility vehicle’s (SUV) safety package was developed on the basis of findings from actual accidents. As standard equipment the vehicle boasts seven airbags, as well as seatbelt tensioners, belt force limiters, and crash-active NECK-PRO headrests.

The new M-Class is also the world’s only SUV to feature the PRE-SAFE anticipatory occupant protection system that takes preventive measures during the interval between recognition of a critical situation and an eventual crash, thereby significantly reducing the stresses occupants are exposed to should an impact occur.
The model has also been given top marks in the U.S. (five stars) by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), which designated the vehicle a “Top Safety Pick.”

Direct Contact with Customer Center

The “Mercedes-Benz Contact” telematics service allows drivers to connect with the Mercedes-Benz Customer Center by phone at any time with just the push of a button. The new service thus ensures faster assistance with breakdowns and vehicle-related questions. If so desired, Mercedes-Benz Contact can even automatically transfer relevant vehicle and location data to the Customer Center, including vehicle identification numbers, service codes, and - provided the car has a navigation system - data on the vehicle’s position. Mercedes-Benz customer service staff can then address the issue on the phone with all key information at their disposal.

Customers are not charged for the services provided; they only pay for the cost of the phone call. Mercedes-Benz Contact, which comes as standard equipment in the audio system package available in the new C-Class, can be used to call the Customer Center from both within Germany and from abroad. Plans call for the telematics service to be gradually introduced to other Mercedes-Benz model series.

Year of Mathematics: Numbers Count

Mathematics impacts our lives more than any other science: Whether it’s automobile production, road construction planning, making purchases in supermarkets, or surfing the Web - everything is related in some way to mathematical calculations and solutions. Germany’s Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) has therefore declared 2008 to be the “Year of Mathematics,” and has launched a corresponding campaign in which businesses are participating as partners and sponsors.
“The automotive industry’s leadership in technology and innovations would be unthinkable without outstanding mathematical skills,” says Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche. “One of the latest examples of the importance of math is offered by the use of digital prototypes in vehicle development.” Such prototypes enable the characteristics of new vehicles to be realistically simulated and optimized long before the first physical prototype is ever built.

The new Mercedes-Benz C-Class is the world’s first production car developed using this forward-looking technique. “Without mathematics, road traffic would be unpredictable, which is why the mathematical abilities of our researchers, developers, and engineers make a major contribution to the success of our development activities,” Zetsche says.

AKTIV Research Initiative: Warning Drivers of Approaching Traffic Lights and Obstacles

Daimler recently presented an interim report in connection with the AKTIV research initiative. Engineers involved in the program have been focusing on driver assistance systems that ensure greater safety at crossings, as most accidents in cities occur at street intersections, where drivers sometimes overlook red lights or stop signs, fail to yield, or make mistakes when turning. The new types of assistance systems will not only reduce the burden on drivers but also warn them in good time of impending dangers. To this end, Daimler researchers have developed image recognition systems that monitor a vehicle’s surroundings. One system has windshield-mounted stereo cameras that record images of the traffic situation. Special software then scans the images for relevant objects.

Traffic light recognition The image-processing software studies circularly shaped red pixels, for example, and then calculates their distance to the vehicle. In this way, it can determine the object’s size and thus recognize braking lights or red traffic lights within fractions of a second.

Danger of collision Daimler researchers have also combined spatial image recordings with real-time image analysis in a way that enables typical pixel structures to be identified and tracked over a period of time. Cyclists, for example, are registered as a large number of individual pixels, each of which behaves differently, but which together continue to move in the same direction. The system can recognize the danger of a collision if the pixels embark upon a collision course with the vehicle. It then issues a visual warning, followed by an alarm and, if necessary, an automatic partial or emergency braking maneuver. Daimler researchers now plan to optimize the procedures in order to create a safety system that is suitable for series production.

Innovation Quiz

Which invention was it?

The lucky winners of the Innovation Quiz from HighTechReport 1/2008 show that you don’t have to drive a Mercedes to know about Daimler technology. The answer to the question regarding the head-area heating device was AIRSCARF - and Anke and Werner Neußer from Augsburg, Germany, knew it.

The technology-crazed couple thoroughly enjoyed their winners’ program: Werner took a VIP tour of the Mercedes-Benz Museum and was impressed by the technologies on display and the design of the museum building, while Anke went on a plant tour in Sindelfingen and asked detailed questions that surprised even the experts. Both Werner and Anke were also thrilled by the “great experience of driving through the wind tunnel at the Mercedes-Benz Untertürkheim plant at 60 kilometers per hour.” Summing up, they said, “We’ll be back - but next time we’ll bring our own Mercedes.”
”If only I had eyes in the back of my head” is a phrase often uttered by people unfortunate enough to have hit an obstacle while backing up. Such maneuvers particularly represent a major safety risk for truck and bus drivers in cities.

However, Daimler researchers have had a solution to this problem for quite some time now: Back in 2005, they tested a 360-degree camera system mounted on the top rear of a Mercedes-Benz Sprinter. Because the camera was connected to a monitor in the cabin, it was possible for the driver to observe extensive areas behind and next to the vehicle. The monitor image also contained a marked field showing where the vehicle would eventually end up if the steering angle was maintained.

It was a great thing for a van - and a must for Mercedes-Benz’ four-axle CapaCity bus, which is nearly 20 meters long and can accommodate 178 passengers. As a result, the CapaCity is equipped with two of the “all-seeing camera eyes” in the rear as standard equipment.

So, the question is: What’s the name of this clever 360-degree camera system? Simply send us your answer via e-mail to the address below.

The winner and an accompanying person will be treated to a VIP visit to the Mercedes-Benz Museum that includes a free ride in the driving simulator. They will also take an extraordinary look behind the scenes of the Daimler research labs and development departments in Stuttgart and Sindelfingen.

Help in finding the answer can be found at www.mercedes-benz.de.

Daimler Trucks Opens Global Hybrid Center

Daimler Trucks has opened a new Global Hybrid Center at Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corporation (MFTBC) in Kawasaki, Japan. The center, part of the company’s research and development organization, is headed by Fumio Akikawa (on the left in the photo).

According to Eike Böhm, Vice President Product Development at MFTBC, the new center will globally manage all of Daimler Trucks’ hybrid development activities. It will thus also be responsible for hybrid development activities at Daimler Trucks’ regional units at MFTBC, Mercedes-Benz Trucks, and Daimler Trucks North America LLC.
MFTBC is an integral part of the Daimler Trucks division. Mitsubishi Fuso has been developing hybrid vehicles for more than ten years. Most of the resulting commercial vehicle products, such as the Aero Star Eco hybrid bus and the light-duty Canter Eco Hybrid truck, are sold to customers in Japan. Ten Canter Eco Hybrids are currently participating in Europe’s biggest fleet test of hybrid trucks, which is taking place in London.

New Mercedes-Benz Actros Entered in Guinness Book of Records as Most Fuel-Efficient Truck

It’s only been on the road a short time - but already it’s a record holder: The new Mercedes-Benz Actros tractor-trailer is now officially the world’s most fuel-efficient production truck. In a test carried out in the southern Italian city of Nardo, the truck was driven on a track around the clock for seven days with a payload of approximately 25 tons. Traveling at an average speed of 80 kilometers per hour, it clocked up just under 13,000 kilometers. During the test, the Actros consumed exactly 19.44 liters of fuel per 100 kilometers, which corresponds to 0.8 liters per 100 ton-kilometers. This result has led to an entry for the Actros in the Guinness Book of Records as “The Most Fuel-Efficient Truck.”

“With the new Actros, Mercedes-Benz has demonstrated that the vision of the ‘one-liter automobile’ is already a reality,” says Andreas Renschler, member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG and Head of the Daimler Trucks division. The 40-ton truck also clearly outperforms environmentally friendly passenger cars when it comes to ecology, as it produces only 20.5 grams of CO2 emissions per payload ton and kilometer, which is much lower than the emissions of hybrid vehicles available on the market today.

Copyright © 2008, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.

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