The S-Class is traditionally Mercedes-Benz's technology flagship, but the current generation has been leapfrogged in some respects by the recently redesigned E-Class. With the refreshed S-Class due later this year, Mercedes not only plans to bring its big sedan up to speed, but to take it a step closer to autonomous driving.
Mercedes is launching a host of new and upgraded driver-assist systems in the S-Class, allowing it to operate with minimal driver input in more situations. The S-Class also gets some tech that debuted on the E-Class, including vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication and remote parking.
The S-Class' Distronic adaptive cruise control system will be able to automatically adjust speed through curves, intersections, and highway off ramps, according to Mercedes. This is potentially a major breakthrough, as current production driver-assist systems aren't capable of handling much more than straight-line highway driving. The new system uses map and navigation data to identify areas where the car may need to slow down.
The system can also adjust speed by reading road signs or pulling speed-limit information from the navigation system, and the set speed is driver-adjustable as well. For drivers who want to do more than a steady cruise, the S-Class will also get an automated lane-change function; like Tesla's Autopilot, the system executes lane changes at the flick of a turn signal.
The S-Class will also adopt the E-Class' V2V tech, which allows cars equipped with the communication hardware to "talk" to each other and relay information to their drivers. Another feature cribbed from the E-Class is a remote parking feature that lets the driver get out of the car and park it using a smartphone. Similar to Tesla's Summon, this is supposed to prove handy in tight parking spaces.
This being a modern Mercedes, the list of tech doesn't stop there. Other features will include autonomous emergency braking, the ability to autonomously follow other cars in stop-and-go traffic, lane-keep assist, blind spot assist, and steering assist designed to help the driver during evasive maneuvers. The S550e plug-in hybrid is also expected to get wireless charging.