M Sometimes it's the little problems that hardly anyone thinks about, but which are difficult to solve in the development of autonomous cars: For example, the legislature requires a warning triangle to be set up in the event of breakdowns or accidents - regardless of whether they are robotic taxis or conventional ones Cars deals. But who should take over this job in a self-driving car in which the occupants are only passengers and perhaps don't feel addressed at all?
Mercedes had an idea: In the case of the new Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF), a robot trolley housed in the rear with a fold-out warning triangle sets off in the event of a breakdown. The vehicle, the size of a vacuum cleaner robot, stops at the prescribed distance from the breakdown vehicle, and other road users are informed via displays on the rear window - for example, whether help has already been called. The fade-ins come from a projector hidden in the interior.
The test vehicle called ESF 2019 is based on the plug-in version of the GLE and is peppered with ideas that are primarily intended to make autonomous cars safer. Because self-driving cars need new lifesavers, if only because the occupants are housed completely differently. If seats are rotated or flattened to sleep, an airbag must also adjust to this. Therefore, many air bags in the ESF are attached to seats and no longer to the body and rotate with them. The driver's airbag, in turn, moves from the steering wheel to the dashboard, as the steering wheel is retracted in self-drive mode to make room. Regardless of how the passengers align themselves, in the event of a crash they land softly.
Communicate via LED
They tooCommunicating with other road users follows new rules in the age of self-driving cars: today, pedestrians usually seek eye contact with the driver before they step on a zebra crossing. This is no longer possible with robo-taxis, which is why the ESF communicates with light signals. There are LED strips on the environment sensors on the roof, which glow turquoise when the autopilot is activated, for example. If the car has recognized a pedestrian and gives him priority, the individual LEDs are aligned as if they were looking at the pedestrian. Now he knows that he can use the zebra crossing. The manufacturers are currently working on a cross-brand color coding.
The ESF even takes care when parking: Its sensors register that a pedestrian is stepping onto the street in front of him while a car is approaching from behind at an unchanged speed , the test vehicle flashes its LED to draw attention to the situation. Overlays on the rear window also provide information about the reason for the warning.
One of the more than a dozen new features also includes a heated seat belt. What sounds like a dispensable comfort gimmick has a surprisingly serious background: Mercedes has found out that those who don't wear seat belts are more likely to turn to lifesavers when they're cozy and warm. In the area of the sternum there are a particularly large number of heat receptors. In addition, the belt, heated to 42 degrees, encourages passengers to take off their jackets as soon as they get on while waiting for the heat source. Thick jackets prevent the belt from being as tight as it should to provide optimal protection.
The construction of technology carriers with safety functions has a tradition of almost 50 years at Mercedes. The new Aufpasser-GLE will be presented to the public at the IAA in September.