Modern safety and assistance systems: Effective electronic helpers: keeping a safe distance, remaining on track or effortlessly manoeuvring and parking

Apr 13, 2018
  • As an innovation driver, Mercedes-Benz Vans equips the new Sprinter with safety features that were previously the preserve of passenger cars
  • Reversing camera showing its image in the rear-view mirror, or a modern Parking Package with a 360-degree all-round view
  • Control systems monitor the traffic and driver, and intervene in an emergency
  • A rain sensor with an integrated Wet Wiper System ensures optimum visibility even when wiping 

The new Sprinter is completely dedicated to safety: once again, Mercedes-Benz Vans is fulfilling its role as a driver of innovation and a pioneer in the introduction of modern safety technologies in the large van segment too. This is because modern safety and assistance systems play a particularly important role in this segment, as commercially used vehicles are often in operation on a daily basis, cover long mileages and must remain controllable even at the limits despite their relatively large dimensions.

With the presentation of the new Sprinter, a whole range of optional safety and assistance systems is now available from Mercedes-Benz Vans that were previously the preserve of the passenger car series. These include the radar-based distance control system DISTRONIC, Active Brake Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist and ATTENTION ASSIST. The optional Parking Package with 360-degree camera makes another important contribution to relieving driver workload. Crosswind Assist is of course also on board as standard, as it makes van journeys considerably safer, especially at higher speeds and e.g. on motorways. Traffic Sign Assist draws additional attention to speed limits, no-entry and no-overtaking restrictions and their cancellation.

DISTRONIC is able to brake autonomously – to a standstill in an emergency

Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC is celebrating its premiere in the Sprinter segment, and effectively eases the driver's workload in convoy traffic on motorways and highways. The driver simply sets the desired speed from 20 km/h upwards, and the system automatically maintains an adequate safety distance from the vehicle ahead. The necessary data are obtained by a radar sensor housed in the front bumper. It enables the system to recognise lane-changes or braking manoeuvres by other road users, and can respond immediately: if the distance from the vehicle ahead lessens, the vehicle speed is reduced with up to 50 percent of the maximum brake force. If necessary the active distance control system will also brake the Sprinter to a standstill. If the standstill time is less than three seconds, the Sprinter moves off again automatically. If the standstill time is longer than three seconds, it is necessary to briefly nudge a pedal or "reactivate" DISTRONIC using the steering wheel buttons. When the system recognises that heavier braking is required, the driver receives a visual and audible warning. If the danger of a collision is recognised, Active Brake Assist intervenes to prevent an accident. As soon as the traffic situation allows, the vehicle is accelerated back up to the set speed. DISTRONIC is also available for fully integrated camper vans.

Improved visibility with the Wet Wiper System and LED headlamps

The rain sensor with Wet Wiper System is also new in the Sprinter. The system ensures optimum visibility even when wiping the windscreen. To this end the washer fluid is passed through the wiper arms, sprayed directly ahead of the wiper blades and immediately wiped away. This improves wiping efficiency and gives the driver an unobscured view. Especially in poor light conditions, this improves the safety level. It also reduces fluid consumption, and unintentional spraying of following vehicles or nearby pedestrians is substantially prevented.

The optionally available LED High Performance headlamps also ensure optimum visibility. The LED headlamps provide a more homogenous light distribution. There is less dazzling of drivers ahead and oncoming traffic. Another advantage is the longer operating life of LED headlamps compared to conventional or bi-xenon headlamps.

The driver is warned and the vehicle is brought back on course

For the new Sprinter, the Active Lane Keeping Assist of the preceding model was developed further so that it reduces the risk of accidents caused by driver inattention or fatigue. From a speed of 60 km/h, the system recognises when the vehicle leaves its lane unintentionally. Radar sensors monitor the traffic around the vehicle, while a camera checks whether the interrupted or solid lane markings are crossed. In the event of an unintentional lane departure, the driver is warned by the vibrating steering wheel. If the driver fails to react despite the vibration warning when a solid lane marking is crossed, Active Lane Keeping Assist guides the vehicle back into its lane by one-sided braking action.

Learn-capable system recognises the driver's limits

ATTENTION ASSIST particularly supports the driver on long journeys and at night. At the start of a journey, Attention Assist registers the driver's behaviour by e.g. the steering movements. During the first 15 to 20 minutes, a driver profile is generated and then continuously reconciled with the current driving behaviour. Should the analysis of over 70 parameters recognise certain patterns that indicate drowsiness or loss of concentration, the system gives an audible and visual warning and prompts the driver to take a break. A chart in the cockpit display with five bars from low to high shows the concentration level of the driver. The driving time since the last break is also shown. ATTENTION ASSIST is active from a speed of 60 km/h, and can be adapted to personal preferences or manually deactivated via the menu settings.

Easier parking and safer exiting

Two different parking assistance packages are new in the Sprinter. Both support the driver in parking and manoeuvring situations by providing a better view with the help of ultrasonic sensors. The Parking Package with Parking Assist and reversing camera warns the driver of obstacles with visual and acoustic signals. The sensors cover all areas in front of, next to and behind the vehicle. The visual warning by Parking Assist and the image of the reversing camera are shown in the multimedia display. Manoeuvring is also assisted by dynamic guide lines.

Drive Away Assist as a further part of the Parking Package assists when moving off, helping to prevent collisions caused by engaging the wrong gear or confusing the brake pedal and accelerator. If an obstacle is detected as well, the system limits the speed to 3 km/h. If the optional Blind Spot Assist is on board in addition to the Parking Package, this recognises traffic and pedestrians crossing behind the vehicle and can also brake autonomously in an emergency.

Even better all-round visibility is assured by the Parking Package with 360-degree camera, which has four cameras installed at the rear end of the vehicle roof, on the two exterior mirrors and in the radiator grille. The multimedia display shows an all-round bird's-eye view of the vehicle, giving the driver a perfect overview in awkward parking and manoeuvring situations.

With the exception of all-wheel drive variants, the new Sprinter is equipped with speed-sensitive electric power steering (EPS) as standard. This allows very easy manoeuvring and parking, and also feels reassuringly safe at high speeds. It assists the driver in holding the vehicle on course in crosswinds or on inclined road surfaces by actively reducing the countersteering effort. Mercedes-Benz is the first manufacturer in the Sprinter segment to also offer EPS for vehicles up to 5.5 tonnes.