Mercedes Benz has been talking to Motoring online magazine in Australia, saying that an uncrashable car is possible.
This might seem impossible to most of us, but Mercedes’ global R&D chief, Ola Kalennius claims it is not a pipedream and he has produced a new ESF (formerly ESV), or Experimental Safety Vehicle to prove it. He told the magazine, “Safety is the core DNA of Mercedes and the ultimate goal is zero accidents in traffic.”
Zero road deaths is an idea that has also been talked up by Volvo, a company that is most definitely associated with safe driving and it even went so far as to claim it would have a car ready for that purpose by 2020. It seems Mercedes may have pipped Volvo to the post.
Kalennius told the Australian media at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show that a new ESF would be unveiled in mid-2019, but when asked where it would be shown, he replied, “Wait and see!”
As he pointed out, improvements in autonomous driving tech and collision prevention are expected in the near future, as are new occupant protection systems designed to reduce injury in the advent of a car crash. “Things like autonomous driving and sophisticated driver assistance are all enablers to reduce traffic accidents. Because virtually all traffic accidents are human error,” he remarked.
Kalennius said that the idea behind the uncrashable car is if cars are controlled by constantly-learning AI and a huge amount of cloud computing brawn that can see all things at all times, no one should die while riding inside a car.
He also said that the car when it arrives would be a “jaw dropper.” Some suspected that the new ESF might be based on the S-Class flagship limousine, but Kalennius would neither confirm nor deny this.
However, he did say that many of its safety features are almost showroom ready: “Having been in engineering for a couple of years, I’m absolutely amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of the engineers. It never stops. We will do something in the middle of this year, to demonstrate what the future of safety is going to look like.
I don’t want to say what the features are [but] there are some things that are very hands on and very close to series deployment.”
What do you think – is the Mercedes R&D chief just invoking PR spin or can the driverless car achieve zero road deaths in our lifetime?