Eye-contact is a major element of communication in road traffic. And usually we quite rightly trust that a person who has seen us will give us attention. We do not have this level of relationship and experience with vehicles driving in automated mode. Accordingly Mercedes-Benz considers empathy and trust to be central factors for the acceptance of self-driving vehicles. For people to gain confidence in an automated vehicle, they must be immediately and intuitively able to recognise what it intends to do – so-called “informed confidence”. In this respect the ESF 2019 takes human road users very much into consideration. Its sensors – whose development has of course not yet been completed in the experimental vehicle – not only keep an eye on the traffic situation, but also enable the ESF to communicate in all directions. And it not only makes its own intentions clear, it can also warn other road users. Even when even when parked at the roadside and not involved – like a thinking, alert passer-by.
“I have seen you”, “I will stay here”, “Attention, tailback” or “I’ll give way to you” – car drivers constantly give these and other signals to other road users. The ESF 2019 uses clearly visible light signals in turquoise to do the same, thereby instilling informed confidence. There are many means of communication, using:
- the large front panel,
- LEDs in the sensor unit on the roof, in the indicator repeaters of the exterior mirrors and in the third brake light and projections onto the rear window.
- Warnings and messages are sent using animations and symbols. Warnings are framed in red according to their urgency, for example in animations on the rear window.
The ESF 2019 clearly indicates e.g. that it will allow a pedestrian to cross the road or make room for a vehicle cutting in. The vehicle can even warn following traffic of hazards that lie ahead.
The ESF 2019 is also equipped with the revolutionary headlamp technology DIGITAL LIGHT, with practically dazzle-free high beam in HD quality and a resolution of more than two million pixels. With the innovative software-controlled DIGITAL LIGHT technology, symbols can also be projected onto the road in HD quality, e.g. as additional information for the driver.
As the sensor system of a plug-in hybrid vehicle is not dependent on a running combustion engine for its power supply, it can even keep an eye on the traffic when it is connected to a charging station. So it would be able to warn car drivers of pedestrians who might carelessly wander into the road, or warn a car driver who is turning off about approaching cyclists. At the same time, pedestrians or cyclists can be warned of a hazard: this is because the ESF 2019 shares its knowledge of risks with its direct surroundings, and can therefore protect others against accidents.
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