The ability to detect pedestrians on the road and highlight them on the display in the instrument cluster to warn the driver has been a feature of the Active Night View Assist Plus since 2009.

Now Mercedes-Benz is presenting the latest development stage of the system as a world premiere in the form of a spotlight function. The new assistance system goes a significant step further: It highlights the possible source of danger in the driver’s immediate field of vision by specifically directing light on people on the road. A positive side effect of this is that the pedestrian is also alerted to the presence of the approaching vehicle. The new spotlight function will be included as a standard feature of the Active Night View Assist Plus in a luxury class Mercedes model from the summer of 2011.

Imagine the scenario: you are driving at night on a dark country road and suddenly a pedestrian appears as if from nowhere – almost every driver must have encountered such a daunting moment at some point. Striking a passer-by is one of the worst things that could happen to a driver. According to research by the German Federal Highway Research Institute (BASt), five times as many pedestrians are killed on country roads at night than during the day. Another statistic from the BASt is as equally shocking: only 20 percent of car journeys take place at night – however this is the time when some 40 percent of fatal accidents occur.

With the the new spotlight function for the Active Night View Assist Plus, Mercedes-Benz is for the first time presenting an active light system which provides a completely new level of safety at night. If the night vision camera detects people on or near the road, they are automatically flashed with the spotlight function to alert the driver to the potential danger. As a positive side effect, pedestrians are also alerted to the approaching vehicle. Studies have confirmed that pedestrians do actually become aware of the spotlight function. Other road users are not dazzled as illumination does not occur if other road users who happen to be travelling in front or approaching in the opposite direction are located near the pedestrian.

The new spotlight function will be included as a standard feature of Active Night View Assist Plus in a luxury class Mercedes model from the summer of 2011. “Just like many other safety innovations from Mercedes-Benz, the new spotlight function forming part of the Active Night View Assist Plus is geared towards how accidents actually occur”, according to Dr. Thomas Weber,Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The aim of this development was to prevent the particularly serious consequences of collisions with pedestrians at night. With this concept, a Mercedes-Benz fitted with the spotlight function not only protects its occupants, but also makes a significant contribution towards enhancing safety for other road users”, explains Dr. Weber. The popularity of enhanced night-time driving safety among customers is reflected in the success story enjoyed by Active Night Assist, which was introduced in 2005: currently more than half of global orders for the Mercedes-Benz S-Class include the system.
The new spotlight function was developed by the camera and light experts at Mercedes-Benz in Sindelfingen.

Source: Daimler AG