February 26, 2003

Mercedes-Benz claims Distronic intelligent cruise control improves road safety

Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz intelligent adaptive cruise control, Distronic, reduces driver fatigue and improves road safety claims the automaker.

A radar sensor behind the radiator grille enables a car equipped with Distronic to automatically maintain a constant distance to the vehicle in front of it. Mercedes claims this significantly enhances driver comfort, especially on heavily congested stretches of road, by reducing stress at the wheel and making driving more relaxing.

The company also claims Distronic improves road safety levels. Insufficient distance between vehicles is the third most common cause of accidents in Germany, says the company. Some twelve per cent of severe traffic accidents occur because people are driving too close. Failure to keep sufficient distance is also the cause of many of the driving bans imposed by the courts and authorities. Studies by the DaimlerChrysler research division show that the reaction time of drivers using Distronic is up to 40 per cent faster than that of those without this assistance system.

The Distronic system takes signals from the radar sensor, the three transmission and receiving units of which scan the full width of a three-lane motorway over a distance of approximately 100 metres and recognise any moving vehicles ahead. The reflection of the radar impulses and the change in their frequency enables the system to calculate the correct distance and the relative speed between the vehicles. Should the distance to the vehicle in front reduce, the proximity and cruise control system immediately reduces acceleration or – should this be necessary – applies the brake.

Once the distance increases again, Distronic steps in again as a conventional cruise control system and, at speeds of between 30 and 180 km/h, will maintain the desired speed as programmed. If more drastic action should become necessary, the system will alert the driver with a warning light in the instrument cluster and with an acoustic signal. In this case the driver must apply the brakes himself.

Mercedes-Benz’ adaptive cruise control system, first introduced in 1998, is now equipped in more than 40,000 cars worldwide. ‘Distronic’ cruise control is available as a option in the CLK, E, S, CL and SL-Class cars.

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