With more than 80,000 patent applications in the space of around 125 years, Mercedes-Benz has defined automotive progress more broadly and sustainably than any other vehicle maker.
Dedicated processes ensure that many of these ideas are turned into reality at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz. In 2009, too, the company made more initial patent submissions than any other premium manufacturer. More than half of them fall under the heading of “green” technologies, primarily related to driveline. In terms of safety, Mercedes-Benz plans to introduce its radar-controlled Brake Assist BAS in the new B-Class – one example of our consistent cascading of high-tech.
“The passion for inventing never ends,” was the guiding principle of Carl Benz. His conviction that it is always possible to make something good even better is fundamental to the work carried out by Mercedes-Benz to this day. The power of innovation was and is one of the most important elements driving the company, which has managed to submit more than 80,000 patent applications over the course of almost 125 years. Among those are many that have been decisive in the ongoing development of the automobile.
“New ideas are the product of the human mind. And Mercedes-Benz has always been home to highly creative and motivated people,” notes Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management of Daimler AG responsible for Group Research and Mercedes-Benz Cars Development. “As a company, we encourage them by giving them room for free and creative thinking and working. And, where expedient, we support them with the necessary systems and processes. In so doing, we ensure that the source of our innovative power never diminishes.”
In order to protect its assertion of innovative leadership, the company has established a global knowledge network, which sees around 19,000 individuals from the Research and Development function contribute their knowledge and expertise from a wide range of disciplines. The company is represented around the world where there are centers of competence in relevant fields of expertise – with highly qualified researchers and the associated scientific community. In 1995, for instance, Mercedes-Benz was the first vehicle manufacturer to open an office in Silicon Valley.
Further local development centers are located close to key production facilities, such as those in Germany and the USA. There are also research offices like those in Ulm, Berlin, Palo Alto (California), Bangalore (India) and Beijing (China). Alongside the “classic” automotive professions like engineer or designer, this network also includes physicists and other scientists, as well as psychologists and sociologists. All these technicians, analysts, researchers and lateral thinkers work hand-in-hand in this interdisciplinary think tank.
More than 2,000 new patent applications in 2009 alone
Last year, the company was once again the premium manufacturer with the most patent applications. More than half of the overall total of 2,070 new developments submitted are related to “green” technologies, with 720 of them apportioned to driveline alone (35 percent). Significant progress was made particularly in the fields of energy efficiency, exhaust gas after-treatment, fuel cell and battery technology. The equally high number of initial patent submissions made in the area of production technology and new materials underscores the leading position held by Mercedes-Benz in “green” technologies. 14 percent of all new developments are attributable to lightweight materials and production processes, e.g. CFC, and to environmentally friendly manufacturing processes.
With extensive investments ongoing in Research and Development, the company is laying the groundwork to ensure that the already high level of innovation is not only maintained over the long term, but expanded.
Mercedes-Benz continues to demonstrate its traditionally outstanding expertise in the fields of safety and comfort with a host of innovations, including pedestrian protection and PRE-SAFE® systems, with Mercedes-Benz vehicles in all market segments benefiting from these developments. The planned introduction of the radar-controlled Brake Assist BAS in the new B-Class is just one example of our consistent cascade approach to high-tech. For models in the luxury-class segments, the camera-based MAGIC BODY CONTROL system is a further innovation in the field of chassis technology that will soon be ready for series production and will celebrate its premiere in the next S-Class.
Intelligent innovation management ensures maximum customer benefit
In order that as many ideas as possible are actually implemented as quickly as possible to the benefit of the customer, Mercedes-Benz has established a process of innovation management which combines creativity and customer benefit. Future research and technology monitoring ensure that new solutions anticipate changing conditions and future customer desires. Customer research such as monitoring product acceptance at the Customer Research Center (CRC) guarantee that customer feedback and innovative ideas are fed into the development of new Mercedes-Benz automobiles from the very beginning.
Driving simulators – the perfect complement to real-life testing
The next phase in the development and testing of vehicles will see the application of a wide range of simulators. With the assistance of “digital prototypes” of a vehicle created by very powerful computers it is now possible, for example, to conduct fully integrated testing of a new model in a wide range of driving situations before an actual vehicle has been built.
Just a few weeks ago, Mercedes-Benz opened the world’s most advanced driving simulator in Sindelfingen. With its 360° screen, high-speed electric operation and twelve-meter rails for longitudinal and lateral movement, it is the most powerful moving simulator in the automotive industry. This is in addition to the intensive practical testing conducted over many millions of kilometers that will remain an indispensible element of the development process.
“The best or nothing” is always the objective at Mercedes-Benz – and, when it comes to innovation, rapid implementation stands shoulder-to-shoulder with high quality and real customer benefits.
Dr. Thomas Weber: “The aim of our work is more rapid technology transfer into series production. To this end, we conduct results-oriented, not knowledge-driven, research. The priority is concrete benefits for the customer, not quantity. Focusing at an early stage on significant innovations facilitates acceleration of the innovation process. The real challenge in this is to bring the right innovations to market at the right time. You see, today more than ever, innovation is the key to success.”
Source: Daimler AG