Mercedes with a soul: Daimler unveils Experimental Safety Vehicle in India
What if your car could see, talk, hear and sense much like you? What if it had an intelligent mind to ensure a smooth and safe drive? Well, that may well be where the automotive industry is heading and Daimler is trying to be at the forefront of it all courtesy the Mercedes Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle ESF 2019 which was unveiled for the first time in India on Wednesday.
While Daimler has actively worked towards making its cars - and roads at large, more safe, ESF 2019 - a GLE on research steroids - is a car like never before. The company showcased the ESF 2019 as part of its Safe Roads India Summit and reaffirmed its commitment towards road safety - both for passengers as well as pedestrians.
ESF 2019 features a host of futuristic features which could make way into cars of tomorrow. The research vehicle is packed to the brim with technological innovations that help it remain aware always. Coloured lights, projective panels and even a triangle robot which comes out automatically when the car is stationery are just some of the standout features. The car has a number of cameras and several sensors all around that monitor the car as well as surroundings for conditions and hindrances.
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Made primarily to serve as a foundation on which autonomous cars of the future can stand - and stand safe, the ESF 2019 comes with a rear screen which doubles up as a display. How this works is by making use of cameras in the front to project the front view on to the rear screen. The rear screen also has a smaller display that can project warning signals like pedestrians in front.
The ESF 2019 is also monitoring surroundings while stationery and has a voice interface that could issue messages and warnings to pedestrians.
On the inside, the ESF 2019 may well be one of the safest cars for occupants anywhere in the world. The steering wheel looks like it has been imported straight from the future and moves back in if the vehicle is put on autonomous mode. Each passenger gets double-sided as well as frontal airbag protection while vitalising interior lights and autonomous pedals are just some of the experimental additions on the ESF 2019.
Speaking to HT Auto, Julien Richert, safety engineer at Mercedes Benz and project lead for ESF 2019, explained that some of the safety features on display are already making their way into cars today. "This is the direction that we believe cars of the future will take but some of the features like rear-seat frontal airbag on ESF 2019 are already making way to cars now," he said.
Joachen Feese, head of accident research, safety concepts and child safety at Mercedes Benz, also highlighted the thought process behind ESF 2019. "Safety is our core brand value and is a part of the DNA for Mercedes-Benz. That is precisely one of the reasons for building the ESF 2019," he said. "We have done so to show the ideas and concepts on which our safety experts are currently working in research and development. One highlight is the cooperative behaviour and communication with the environment: the ESF takes care of all road users surrounding it."
While it is a given that most of the safety wizardry on the ESF 2019 may take many, many years to reach production, it points well to the safer times to come, especially in India where road accident deaths are the highest in the world.