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No weakness for S-class after all
November 28, 2005 5:24 AM   Subscribe

It turns out that last weeks' story about the Mercedes S class crashing during a safety demonstration on tv was a set-up, arranged by the television station in question. Whoops. via digg
posted by SharQ (28 comments total)

 
This sounds familiar.
posted by Plutor at 5:36 AM on November 28, 2005


Wait a minute. This reporter is enlisted as a conspirator in faking a test result, can't read the secret signals, and misses his cue.

Did he get fired for agreeing to "simulate" the test or for not being able to pull it off?
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:58 AM on November 28, 2005


Well, if he had managed to pull it off, nobody would have been the wiser - it's only the clumsy who get caught.

No self-respecting news-operation has editors condoning this sort of behaviour, and RTL/STERN are definitely rather self-respecting. So I imagine he was fired for trying to fake the result to begin with.
posted by SharQ at 6:11 AM on November 28, 2005


So when a German reporter lies and conspires with his sources about a luxury car, he's fired.

When an American reporter does so in order to deceive the citizenry of a democratic nation to enter into a bloody and expensive war, she's hailed as a hero and can retire to a life of speaking engagements.

I see.
posted by xthlc at 6:13 AM on November 28, 2005


The English judges offer 5.6 for xthlc's derail. In general fairly well crafted, but deemed a touch predictable.
posted by twine42 at 6:16 AM on November 28, 2005


xthlc, a car is a weapon of mass destruction, didn't you know that?
posted by gsb at 6:17 AM on November 28, 2005


I don't understand. Mercedes engineers were in on the staging?
posted by srboisvert at 6:20 AM on November 28, 2005


Mercedes engineers knew the system wouldn't work due to the filming environment (a big metal box) and agreed to let the reporter simulate the system working by using his right foot.

And he fecked it up.

You have to love new technology so reliable that you have to fake the demonstrations...
posted by twine42 at 6:32 AM on November 28, 2005


The video is available here (german).
posted by tcp at 6:33 AM on November 28, 2005


There are three parties:

1. Mercedes
2. The driver, ex-journalist for Auto Bild
3. The TV-Team

The driver conspired with Mercedes, trying to fool the TV-Team. Which backfired, when they got wind of this staging.

Mercedes apologized, and explained that the system would not work in this special situation inside this hall. Mercedes also explained that the system does really work under normal driving conditions and offered to showcase that.

The driver was fired by this magazine.

The TV-Team had a big story.
posted by vowe at 6:35 AM on November 28, 2005


Mercedes also explained that the system does really work under normal driving conditions and offered to showcase that.

Except that there are probably quite a few 'normal driving conditions' that might be a problem. Parking garages are surrounded by re-bar, car ferries are mostly metal, what about on a steal bridge surrounded by trucks?
posted by Chuckles at 6:46 AM on November 28, 2005


Chuckles: True, but on car ferries and in parking garages, you wouldn't rely on a radar for braking, would you? Tunnels, perhaps, but according to Mercedes, tunnels and bridges should be okay, too.
posted by SharQ at 7:52 AM on November 28, 2005


You wouldn't ever rely on it. I see your point though, in a low speed environments injury isn't an issue, so those circumstances are less important.

That is a pretty ugly aspect of new car design though - bumpers that do maximum damage to body work during low speed collisions. Life saving is definitely most important, but why not make it useful in a more day to day sense too... Well, I know why, but...
posted by Chuckles at 8:16 AM on November 28, 2005


Elephant in the room:

Someone's actually making cars that have radar to brake for you? Isn't that... well, insane?
posted by odinsdream at 8:17 AM on November 28, 2005


I believe the radar system only 'finishes' braking for you. First it gives the driver warning signs when it detects an impending collision, then the system compensates if he doesn't apply enough pressure to stop in time.
posted by romanb at 8:41 AM on November 28, 2005


odinsdream: Probably less insane then letting the majority of drivers decide when to break. And anyway, I'm sure you could turn it off.

In 20 years cars will primarily drive themselves, and people can motor about as inebriated as they please.
posted by delmoi at 8:43 AM on November 28, 2005


odinsdream: "Someone's actually making cars that have radar to brake for you? Isn't that... well, insane?"

I don't see how it's insane. Insane would be if it purposely prevented the car from braking.
posted by Plutor at 8:44 AM on November 28, 2005


Press-release type hype for the Mercedes PRE-SAFE radar-triggered braking management system makes it sound much less ambitious and much more passive than "braking for you" implies. Basically, it can warn of imminent collisions, and it can contextually distinguish and optimize panic stops. I haven't seen any claims that it can apply the brakes on its own.

I guess the idea of the TV demonstration was: Driver approaches a stopped car obscured by fog; driver hits brakes a little too late, a little too gently to stop in time; PRE-SAFE sees what's about to happen and slams full-force on the brakes as soon as the driver touches the brake pedal, barely averting a collision or at least minimizing the energy of the impact.
posted by Western Infidels at 8:56 AM on November 28, 2005


Cars have had parking assist radars for several years now. These alert the driver when they detect something behind the car, while it is in reverse.
posted by rfs at 9:17 AM on November 28, 2005


I drive a car that has these systems, PRE-SAFE and the braking system are different features. PRE-SAFE tightens the seat belt up and moves the seats to an optimal position and closes the sunroof if you pull to many lateral g's. You can easily trigger the PRE-SAFE system by doing donuts. Feels weird when the seat belt tightens up. The braking system is called Distronic. It needs to be turned off if you do a lot of passing.
posted by Mr_Zero at 9:37 AM on November 28, 2005


Mr_Zero: I drive a car that has these systems... The braking system is called Distronic. It needs to be turned off if you do a lot of passing.

But does it hit the brakes on its own, or not?
posted by Western Infidels at 10:09 AM on November 28, 2005


Just wait until someone gets rear-ended when their car brakes too hard, and watch the lawsuits fly.
posted by blue_beetle at 10:20 AM on November 28, 2005


But does it hit the brakes on its own, or not?

Yes it does.

blue_beetle

The person in the rear is always at fault.
posted by Mr_Zero at 10:59 AM on November 28, 2005


The person in the rear is always at fault.

I have heard that on German autobahns, in the unrestricted parts at least, that if you get rear ended in the far left lane you are at fault.

But I've never seen it written, so I'm not sure.
posted by smitt at 11:20 AM on November 28, 2005


Smitt "I have heard that on German autobahns, in the unrestricted parts at least, that if you get rear ended in the far left lane you are at fault."

My mistake. I was speaking of U.S. laws, AZ specifically.

in the unrestricted parts That would be so much fun. I would love to see some kind of polling about driving on the autobahn. I bet nobody gets road rage. I imagine they are all just smiling and cruising along at 175.
posted by Mr_Zero at 11:49 AM on November 28, 2005


Smitt: "I have heard that on German autobahns, in the unrestricted parts at least, that if you get rear ended in the far left lane you are at fault."

As far as I know, there is the default assumption that the driver rear ending the car in front is at fault. Only if the driver in front behaves crazy, like breaking hard without a valid reason, can guilt be shared or even solely assigned to the driver in front. This has happened for example when the front driver brakes because he doesn't want to run over a rabbit. But there is certainly no automatic reversal of this default assumption while driving in the far left lane. There have been cases where people driving inappropriately slow on the left lane were fined.

Mr_Zero: I imagine they are all just smiling and cruising along at 175.

Yeah, that would be nice. But in reality, there are big problems with really aggressive drivers trying to force their way on the far left lane or tailgating at high speed. Additionally, there are often traffic jams - which could best be avoided by everyone going at the same reasonable speed, which produces the least amount of perturbations in traffic flow.
posted by ltl at 2:26 PM on November 28, 2005


Someone's actually making cars that have radar to brake for you? Isn't that... well, insane?


Radar can see through things like dense fog and heavy rain that human drivers can't. An experienced driver will slow down in these conditions, but some people will still try to cut through at 60mph, until they hit the car in front of them. It seems like a good idea to me to add radar braking.

But this isn't even the good part. Put radar braking and cruise control together, and you are half way to an autonomous car. GPS nav systems still have a way to go before they are safe to control to the steering wheel, but I expect that problem will be solved within the next 20 years. At that point, a car changes from a high velocity deathmobile into a moving couch. Just grab your latte, cell phone and laptop, and go. It won't matter that you are drinking coffee, talking on the phone, and browsing the web because the car won't have a steering wheel or any other input. The car will self-drive, and only highly trained humans will be allowed to operate vehicles on the public roadways. Licensing will be more like pilot licensing than current driver licensing.

It is going to be a while before the technology is ready, but it is nice to see luxury car makers like Mercedes investing in generally useful technology rather than 16 cylinder ultra fast gas guzzling engines.
posted by b1tr0t at 5:36 PM on November 28, 2005


Licensing will be more like pilot licensing than current driver licensing.

God, how I wish this were the way it actually was right now.
posted by odinsdream at 7:31 PM on November 28, 2005


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