Mercedes-Benz says an uncrashable car is possible


    The 2009 Mercedes-Benz ESF on display at the 2010 Washington, DC Auto Show (Image courtesy of Mercedes-Benz USA)

    Mercedes-Benz believes it can build a car capable of avoiding crashes, and it plans to show its vision with a new concept vehicle this year.

    Australian website Motoring reported Sunday Mercedes-Benz global research and development head, Ola Kalennius, thinks an uncrashable car will come sooner than we think. He spoke to the website at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show and shared minor details about the company's forthcoming concept car. The executive said the concept will pair advanced self-driving systems and collision protection to create the ultimate safety vehicle.

    He said if adaptable artificial intelligence that constantly learns controls the car, and cloud computing is able to see everything at once, there's not a single reason why a car should crash—or worse, a human die in a wreck.


    Mercedes-Benz showed off the ESF concept in 2009, which featured everything safety-related the brand could stuff into an S-Class at the time. Ten years later, it appears the German luxury brand will have another go, with plenty more autonomous driving systems. However, Kalennius wouldn't say if the latest concept would be based on an S-Class again, or if it would be an entirely new design. It'll be a "jaw-dropper," nonetheless, he said.

    The executive did note that a handful of the technologies planned to be showcased on the concept are quite close to series production. He said the engineers' work amazed him and underscored the concept wouldn't be an entirely far-out future vision, but something near-term to reduce car wrecks.

    As for when he believes cars will take over driving from humans, Kalennius didn't venture a guess. He does believe cities will drive the major change in mobility before it spreads to less-congested areas.

    Volvo has had a similar vision. In 2008, the company revealed its Vision 2020 plan, which has the bold goal of nobody dying in a Volvo vehicle by the year 2020. The plan has three aspects: make the cars safe in case of a crash, give them lots of features to avoid a crash, and finally introduce autonomous driving, which will be safer than human drivers. Volvo may not achieve that goal in what is now just less than two years' time, but the idea is similar to what Mercedes envisions.

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