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    Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    (Stern News) Mercedes-Benz has been demonstrating its new radar-based "intelligent" cruise control system, as fitted in the new S-Class - but it has not proved very clever.

    Setting up a three-car convoy for German TV, the Mercedes team were to hit the brakes in the first car and then experience the automatic braking of the second and third cars behind. However, the second car failed to brake, shunting into the back for the first, and then the third car ploughed into the rear of the second.

    It is thought that the steel construction of the hall in which filming took place had confused the radar beams. The pile-up will be shown on German TV tonight. (Stern News)

    click here for the video (About 2 mins in for 1st crash, 5 mins in for pile-up)

    Maybe some of our German speaking members can translate, although I think I know what the test driver was saying after the 1st crash

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Ouch, that is embarrassing
    Nice try by the PR-department to explain it by blaming reflections from the walls as the reason for the crash. What happens then when you drive in a tunnel?

    And according to Jason Plato in Fifth Gear the new nightvision system in the S-Class doesn't work properly either. They did a test at night where Jason could see the two persons in front of the car out of the windscreen, but not on the nightvision monitor. He called it rubbish....

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Also on the same Fifth Gear, Jason Plato said he wouldn't trust the distrontic system.

    If you look at the history of the IIHS crash tests, you will see that re-tests are suprisingly frequent even for the top-rated vehicles. A vehicle will perform poorly on the first crash test (eg., ruptured gas tank!!!) and then perform very well on the retest. So my guess is that auto manufacturers are so used to testing safety in their own highly controlled environment that their claims are not credible until an independent third party does their own test in a slightly different environment.

    P.S. Where did the test ocurr? From the video, it looks like they were using MB's own test facilities? Can that be?

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Quote:
    temm said:
    And according to Jason Plato in Fifth Gear the new nightvision system in the S-Class doesn't work properly either. They did a test at night where Jason could see the two persons in front of the car out of the windscreen, but not on the nightvision monitor. He called it rubbish....



    A far cry from Arnold's infrared vision in Terminator 2

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Quote:
    hatchback said:

    P.S. Where did the test ocurr? From the video, it looks like they were using MB's own test facilities? Can that be?



    From my (limited) knowledge of the German language, this test was set up by Mercedes at their own test facility, making it even more embarrasing.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Quote:
    temm said:
    Quote:
    hatchback said:

    P.S. Where did the test ocurr? From the video, it looks like they were using MB's own test facilities? Can that be?



    From my (limited) knowledge of the German language, this test was set up by Mercedes at their own test facility, making it even more embarrasing.



    I still can't get over that video.... Before I reach any conclusions, would be grateful if a native speaker could please summarize the events in the video. From my imperfect understanding, it looks like the test driver was contracted by MB rather than the TV show and he was manually braking at a preset braking point as highlighted by the TV camera, ie., the distronic wasn't working AT ALL nor was MB intending to use it.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Quote:
    Atlantis said:

    Maybe some of our German speaking members can translate, although I think I know what the test driver was saying after the 1st crash



    Properly translated into English it's a a four letter word starting with S and ending with T

    The entire story gets a lot of attention in the german net and I will summarize what I have understood so far:

    DC wanted to demonstrate the advantages of their new Distronic system in a REAL (hehe) test covered by the german
    TV show "Stern-TV" (not a car related show, just reporting about some tech stuff now and then).

    So they arranged the following scenario in their own safety test building (normally used for crash tests):

    A new Distronic equipped S class should approach some parking cars unvisible due to artificial fog with a speed of 55 km/h. In theory the Distronic due to its radar technology would identify the obstacles (cars) although not visible for the S class's driver (fog) early enough to give him an acoustic warning. The driver would then engage the break, which automatically would initiate an emergency break assisted by the BreakAssist system.

    The problem: DC engineers figured out beforehand that the radar system would not work properly in the building due to reflecting metal parts of the building (that's at least the story they told after the "incident").

    Therefore the entire test was FAKED (without telling the TV show's management in advance): they placed a wooden plank on the floor as an indicator for the driver when to engage the break - really high tech

    In order to increase the credibility of the test, a "neutral" driver was chosen (not a DC employee). And yes guess where they found an "indpendent" driver being ready to get corrupted: it was the head reporter of the german car magazine "Autobild" (certainly in exchange of a nice exclusive story like "I have been the first to test the Distronic under REAL conditions and it's a blast..")

    Now let the fun begin: in the first try the driver was either too silly to engage the break pedal early enough (perhaps he could not spot the wooden plank) or they have been messing up in calculating the appropriate distance plank/obstacle or the breaks did not work well (driver was claiming the latter after the test) - so he just crashed into the other car (the TV team taking record of the scene of course ).

    After the crash the driver was discussing with some DC engineers what went wrong and how to avoid a crash in a second test. Unfortunately the driver and the engineers forgot that the microphones of the TV team still had been turned on.......A member of the TV team asked whether he could participate in a second test as a passenger (courageous guy )....the DC engineer agreed only to withdraw his approval a minute later after the driver reminded him that the witness from the TV team would realize that there would be no acoustic warning and that he would engage the break pedal just at the position of the wooden plank.....STILL ON AIR....LOL....

    A second and third test was conducted by the Autobild reporter (this time not crashing the car) and afterwords the TV crew confronted the driver and the DC engineers with their findings: holy cow ! their faces changed colors quicker than any F1 gearbox could change gears

    This embarassment is unparalelled !

    To top the crazyness the Autobild-reporter indeed used the story in the latest Autobild-issue to praise the value of the Distronic system ! - the guy has been fired by Autobild today....

    The entire story is so unbelievable...if it would have been a Monty Python movie sketch I would have cramped myself on the floor laughing, but as it is just another example of how to destroy the rest of the credibility of car makers' marketing departments and car magazine's "independence" there is some bitter taste to this story.

    It will be very interesting to see how DC and Autobild will try to recover credibility (maybe DC offers a wooden plank option for their S class in the future )

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    This is very interesting. Has anyone noticed the license plate number on that S-class? 666 Puhahaha

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Thanks very much for the translation Porsche-Jeck I'm sure it'll be covered in the UK motoring press fairly soon as it seems an unbelievable story.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Thank you, Porsche-Jeck for the synopsis, and Atlantis for the video. For those of you who haven't seen the video yet, don't miss it. The video is at least 10 times more incredible than the reports we are seeing in the USA, which just talk about distronic not working in unusual circumstances. It's like watching a a high-speed bullet train derail in super-slow motion. Unless the video is a very complex PR stunt, I don't see how the MB staff involved in that charade can keep their jobs either.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    After a few car wrecks by bad drivers here in the US (driving too fast in poor weather, rear ending some slowed/stopped car) some class action attorneys will use this to claim Distronic is inherently flawed and that DC knew all along, blah blah blah. End result? Several millions leave DC for the pockets of greedy attorneys and their inept driver clients. It is difficult to comprehend how stupid the guys running that test must be. A wooden plank? It's like something out of a Greek tragedy.

    Thanks for taking the time to post your English version Porsche-Jeck.

    mcdelaug

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Thats quite the story! thanks for the video and translation guys.

    By the way, If anyone really wants a genuine night vision system, its on the 2006 Lexuz LX470. It is a completely different system than what BMW or Mercedes use.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Thank you Porsche-Jeck
    With my limited German I could not understand what the deal with the wooden plank was, but now I know.

    The expression on the face of the Mercedes guy when they confronted him at the end of the video is priceless. You can see his brain going into panic-mode to come up with an explanation

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Thanks Porsche-Jeck for the translation
    Unbeliebable! at least something came out of all of it, that reported got fired!! unfortunately the car-press corruption or bias is more extended than that.

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Breaking news on this story: there are sources that claim that this entire fiasco was staged by the television channel:

    http://www.askaprice.com/torque-article....ke&item=718

    PR Move by MB or truth comming to revelation?

    Covert ops in car land... I like

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    "according to sources in German media, Mercedes was already aware that the test would fail in the hall that was chosen for the television report, and recommended against doing the report at all. Desperate for a story, Specht reportedly conspired with the Mercedes engineers to brake manually, in a situation designed to 'simulate' the system."

    That article is a text book example of Public Relations Disaster Control 101.

    Its just Mercedes's way of deflecting criticism from their technology to a few fall guys.

    Otherwise Mercedes would have to admit that a Distronic equipped vehicle would be at risk in tunnels and with
    large trucks near it.

    So, its best to point fingers at people and not at the options list!

    Re: Mercedes Active Cruise Control PR Disaster

    Quote:
    Hurst said:
    Breaking news on this story: there are sources that claim that this entire fiasco was staged by the television channel:

    http://www.askaprice.com/torque-article....ke&item=718

    PR Move by MB or truth comming to revelation?

    Covert ops in car land... I like



    And if you look at the bottom of the page, below the article, there's an advert for Mercedes-Benz

     
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