New driving simulator taken into operation in Sindelfingen

Investment in cutting-edge technologies

  • Future-proof: centrepiece of a 160-million Euro investment in this location
  • Fast reaction: for highly dynamic driving manoeuvres such as lane-changes
  • Photorealistic: with 360° screen and precise landscape images

Prof. Dr. Peter Frankenberg, Baden-Württemberg’s Minister of Science, Research and Art, and Dr. Thomas Weber, Member of the Board of Management responsible for Group Research and Head of Development, Mercedes-Benz Cars, ceremoniously opened the new Daimler AG driving simulator in Sindelfingen with a virtual excursion. The first milestone in the expansion of the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center has therefore been reached.

Nowhere in the world of automobile production are research, development, design, planning and production so directly intermeshed as at the Mercedes-Benz location in Sindelfingen: “The advantages are very obvious: the exchange of information between the individual sectors could not be more close and intensive. This shortens our development times, significantly increases the maturity of our products and therefore makes a major contribution to the future competitiveness of our brand,” said Dr. Weber.

A total of € 160 million is being invested in infrastructure, the driving simulator and climate wind tunnels over a five-year period. Further significant investments are planned for the next few years. The expansion of this location and expenditure on cutting-edge technology is a visible demonstration that even in challenging economic times, Daimler AG is not cutting back on strategic investments. This is how the company safeguards its technological and innovative leadership in the premium segment.

“Expansion of the Mercedes-Benz Technology Center along the southern end of the plant’s central axis is visible evidence of our strategy to develop our technological and innovative expertise further on a continuous basis,” says Prof. Dr. Eberhard Haller, Location and Plant Manager of the Mercedes-Benz plant in Sindelfingen.

With its 360° screen, fast electric power system and a twelve-metre long rail for transverse movements, the dynamic simulator is the most advanced in the automobile industry. As an equally advanced feature, part of the energy required to drive the simulator is obtained by means of energy recuperation when braking, and fed into the power network of the Sindelfingen plant.

“The new driving simulator enables us to reproduce highly dynamic driving manoeuvres such as lane-changes even more realistically, and to research the behaviour of the driver and vehicle in road traffic even more intensively,” Dr. Weber explains. The facility is not able or intended to replace real test drives completely, but the simulator makes it possible to test the systems and components of future Mercedes models in all development phases.

The driving simulator is also used e.g. to conduct tests with test subjects. During these, normal car drivers are able to approach the physical limits with no danger, and provide the Mercedes engineers with findings concerning the acceptance and operation of new safety systems.

How the simulator works:

The simulator cell is a hexapod mounted on six moveable supporting legs. Inside there is a complete Mercedes model in which the test driver is seated, as well as the 360° projection screen showing a realistic image of the traffic scene, with moving pedestrians, oncoming traffic and houses.

The vehicle controls are linked to the computerised control system of the driving simulator by data lines. When the test driver turns the steering wheel, accelerates or operates the brakes, these reactions are registered by the computer control system and have the same effects as in real traffic situations.

The scenery on the screen changes constantly, and the moving cell simulates the vehicle’s attitude on the road, for example front-end dive when braking or body roll during fast cornering. The computer calculates the driving behaviour of the car more than 1000 times per second, issuing the relevant commands to the electrics. It is able to move the cell transversely by up to twelve metres at a maximum speed of ten metres per second (36 km/h), so that e.g. double lane-changes can also be simulated.

Mercedes-Benz has played a pioneering role in the use of simulators for a long time. The first driving simulator, an in-house development, was already taken into commission at the Daimler-Benz research centre in Berlin-Marienfelde 25 years ago, on 10 May 1985.

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