It may sound like fiction, but Mercedes is determined to haul automotive safety standards into a new era of “accident-free driving” using the power of artificial intelligence. The company’s recent technological advances in safety represent a move towards cars that can either mitigate or prevent their own collisions on behalf of drivers. A turnkey technology essential to this effort called “6D Vision” is set to debut in the next-generation Mercedes S-Class in early 2014.
The World in Six Dimensions
Mercedes-Benz; along with parent company Daimler, have a solid and enduring legacy of contributions to occupant protection. For decades, the Benz marque pioneered technologies which have become pillars of modern automotive safety, from anti-lock brakes to airbags and “crumple zones.”
Now, Stuttgart’s world-class engineers have developed a microchip-enabled platform that syncs with radar to provide real-time imaging of the car’s immediate environment. The system empowers a car to accurately ‘see’ other automobiles, drivers, bicyclists, pedestrians or any other hazard, 360 degrees in every direction.
The car’s “eyes” perceive not only three-dimensional positions, but also three dimensions of motion, including direction and speed—hence the name ’6D Vision’. This means your Mercedes-Benz instantly knows where an object is, where it is going and exactly how fast. It can then take appropriate action within a split-second—200 milliseconds, to be precise. The car could, for instance, swerve around a child that’s stepped into traffic, or avoid a parked car’s door that swings open into the lane.
In November 2011, key members of Daimler’s research team received the Karl Heinz Beckurts prize to wide acclaim for their contributions to the science of stereo processing and recognition in the making of ’6D.’ The award credits their development of wave imaging and original algorithms to rapidly analyze moving objects in the environment, making possible a substantial reduction in real-world collisions.
It’s the first time a vehicle has been so efficiently rigged to read risk factors and movements with such minimal hardware. The live data stream can be instantly converted into lifesaving steering and braking decisions. Mercedes believes this technology could prevent thousands of accidents a year, particularly in those low-visibility conditions in which even the most conscientious driver can make critical mistakes, from rainstorms and nighttime to blind curves and busy intersections.
2014 S-Class: Intelligence in Action
The all-new 2014 S-Class will be the first to showcase the fruits of 6D Vision with the “Intelligent Drive” platform, the luxury sedan’s fully-networked safety suite. Intelligent Drive’s integrated components include lane-keeping and blind-spot assist, infrared night navigation, high-beam assist, adaptive cruise control and drowsiness detection. Many of these functions depend on inputs from the car’s six-dimensional vision.
The S-Class is an appropriate setting for the debut of the latest advances. S-Class sedans are often the company’s choice for test driving new safety inventions like 6D. In fact, the world’s first driverless car was an S-Class, way back in the 1980s. It was also the first car in Europe to carry air bags.
Professor Thomas Weber, Head of Group Research, Mercedes-Benz Cars Development, reflects on the capabilities of the anticipated S-Class: “This unrivaled interplay of highly advanced safety technology broadens the ‘senses’ of the automobiles and increases their intelligence.”
“It makes them ‘thinking’ partners that can see, feel, react reflexively, and act autonomously in order to support the driver actively in critical situations.”
The Future of Safety: Autonomous Driving?
Good sense has long underscored the importance of the driver to automobile safety. Despite some reservations, the overall prognosis is looking sunny for high-tech, intelligent safety features like 6D Vision. As states like California and Florida move to regulate autonomous vehicles, excitement about making the safety standards of the future today’s reality is gaining momentum. Keep an eye out in the near term for more record-breaking intelligence and unreal safety advances from the folks at Mercedes-Benz.
Lexus has distanced itself from every other luxury car maker with its winning commitment to advanced Lexus hybrid-electric cars. For the 2013 model year, this means that Lexus offers hybrids on nearly every model within the company’s lineup. As Lexus continues a blitz of new product launches, hybrids have taken a place that is unique in the industry as the ultra-luxury, range topping models within each lineup. More powerful than their gasoline counterparts as well as more efficient, Lexus hybrids have shaken off the sluggish reputation of hybrid technology and ushered in a new era where efficiency and power go hand in hand.
At 43 city and 40 highway mpg, the CT 200h is the most efficient true luxury car on the market. With the Hybrid Synergy Drive powertrain it shares with the award-winning Prius, the Lexus is a more luxurious and sporty take on Toyota’s industry-standard hybrid. Its 134-horsepower gas-electric hybrid system and smooth CVT transmission makes the CT 200h is as agile a performer as its bold, iconoclastic exterior design suggests. New for 2013, Lexus’s Intuitive Parking Assist system uses sensors to detect distance to nearby vehicles and other obstructions. Audible tones and graphics on the center console display warn the driver of impending collisions.
Luxury features include a power sliding glass moon roof, Lexus Enform emergency telematics and infotainment system with “virtual concierge” features, smartphone-enhanced apps, and much more.
The Lexus ES has undergone a complete redesign for the 2013 model year. It has transformed a car that has always been a leader in comfort and class to an even better performer as well. Suspension and steering response have been completely overhauled which ensures that the new-generation ES is as agile as it is comfortable. That includes the new Lexus ES 300h hybrid luxury sedan, the first time hybrid power has come to the ES lineup. At 40 city/39 highway mpg, it is remarkable for a sedan in its class with a combined peak output of 200 horsepower. The car drives and performs without the “trade-offs” hybrid drivers have come to expect. The new ES has migrated from Toyota’s midsize platform to a large car platform and now features nearly as much interior space as the cavernous LS flagship luxury car. Standard features include eco-friendly NuLuxe leatherette upholstery made from sustainable materials and easily renewable bamboo trim that is only available on the hybrid model, 17-inch alloy wheels, dual-zone automatic climate control, an eight-speaker premium audio system with USB/iPod and auxiliary inputs and a six-disc CD changer, Lexus Safety Connect, and more.
The option book also includes a premium Display Audio with navigation and Lexus Enform infotainment system with Lexus’s eyes-on-the-road Remote Touch control interface which helps to avoid distracted driving. True audiophiles can upgrade to the 15-speaker Mark Levinson surround sound stereo system.
Think of the Lexus GS sedan lineup as the ES’s athletic big brother. Both are roomy, luxurious, efficient and feature top-shelf luxury, but while the ES is tuned more for comfortable cruising, the GS is a world-class sport sedan. Lexus has positioned the hybrid GS 450h as the more luxurious alternative to the V6-powered GS 350, with many option sheet items from that car equipped as standard equipment in the hybrid package. Like most top sport sedans, the GS 450h features rear-wheel drive and suspension response tuned for fun on twisty roads.
The car’s hybrid system combines a clean-burning Atkinson-cycle 3.5-liter V6 engine with dual electric motors which combine for a total system 338 peak horsepower. That’s enough grunt to provide a 5.6-second 0-60 mph dash. Forget conceptions you may hold about hybrids: this is a fine-crafted luxury sport sedan which returns an outstanding 29 city, 34 highway and 31 combined mpg.
Among all Lexus hybrid vehicle offerings to date, the RX lineup has been by far the most successful. Consumers have fallen in love with this luxury crossover. The RX 450h is as efficient (31 combined mpg) as many tiny subcompact cars, despite its spacious seating for five adult passengers and a full 40 cubic feet of cargo space behind the rear seat. Fold that flat, and you’ll find 80.3 cubic feet behind the front seats.
With a revised exterior design and all-new interior for 2013, the RX 450h is more luxurious than ever before. Safety Connect emergency response comes standard, along with a nine-speaker audio system, a power lift gate, keyless entry and ignition, Bluetooth phone and streaming audio, and much more. To make the ordering process easier, the hybrid RX 450h is offered in a single trim level, with popular options grouped into packages. Among the highlights: Lexus Enform in-car app suite, a heads-up display, full leather seating and trim, adaptive cruise control and a 15-speaker surround sound system. The RX 450h is not just the finest hybrid crossover SUV on the market, it’s among the best all-around everyday luxury vehicles you’ll find at any price.
Lexus LS 600h L
Reviews for the 2013 Lexus LS 600h L series place a spotlight on internal and external upgrades. Vehicles are the fourth incarnation of sedans produced by Toyota’s luxury division. Sleek styling and whisper-soft operation make the LS 600h a thing of beauty.
United States consumers caught their first glimpse of the LS 600h in 2006 at the New York International Auto Show. The all-wheel drive design powers all four wheels for better traction on uneven terrain or during inclimate weather. A longer wheelbase offers more internal cabin space for increased passenger comfort.
According to Edmunds.Com, a 389 horsepower engine takes drivers from zero to 60 in approximately 5.5 seconds. A duel electric generator system provides engine and rear wheel power. Vehicle fuel economy is approximately 19 miles per gallon (mpg) within city limits and 23 mpg on the highway. Left Lane News indicates LS 600h models meet the criteria for Super Ultra Low Emission Vehicle II (SULEV II) certification, meaning the vehicles emit less harmful chemicals when compared with other new models.
External features include 19-inch alloy wheels and parking sensors to facilitate vehicle movement in tight spaces. Power trunk and keyless entry capabilities increase driver safety by reducing time spent fumbling with keys to open car locks. The blind-spot monitoring system offers cross-traffic alerts, a helpful feature at busy intersections. 2013 models also include updating of the signature Lexus front grille and chrome accents attaching the rear taillights.
Lexus 600h L drivers enjoy power-adjustable leather seats and a heated, leather steering wheel equipped with internal vehicle controls for heat / air, radio and hands-free telephone calls. The Lexus Enform entertainment center links to Bing and iHeartRadio. A voice-activated navigation system, Bluetooth capabilities and Mark Levinson audio system make every ride an indulgent adventure. Multiple airbags, traction control and brake assist maximize occupant safety.
Optional upgrades include premium packages with additional climate control and massage features. A rear-seat duel entertainment center plays digital video discs (DVDs) and features wireless headphones for a quiet, peaceful ride. An executive-seating option removes the center rear seat to create room for a wooden table and beverage cooler.
The Lexus LS 600h L series combines environmentally friendly technology with luxurious design. To quote Edmunds.Com: “…it should give any large luxury sedan a run for its considerable money.” Customers no longer have to choose between social consciousness and personal satisfaction.
See the 2013 Lexus hybrids for yourself at Park Place Lexus in Plano and Grapevine, TX.
New York, NY –This month Robb Report introduces its 25th annual “Best of the Best” 2013 Luxury Portfolio. The newest edition of the magazine is a culmination of a year’s search for the most extraordinary new products and services. The issue is published each June as Robb Report’s monthly magazine.
The “Best of the Best” coverage—featuring comprehensive reviews by Robb Report’s editorial staff and a team of seasoned contributing writers—spans 26 product- and service-related categories within six departments: Wheels, Style, Journeys, Leisure, Home, and Wings & Water. Each category’s selections are based on set guidelines, outlined in each section’s cover page. Winners are chosen exclusively by Robb Report editors.
This year’s winner for Best of the Best Sedan is the all new Maserati Quattroporte.
With an outstanding selection of digital enhancements, Robb Report’s 25th annual “Best of the Best” signature issue offers tablet users an interactive look at this year’s winners. The iPad app—available in the iTunes App Store and offered for free to print subscribers—delivers unique content, including more than 50 videos, as well as slideshows and interactive pictures.
The iPad app is accessible at Robb Report iTunes .
About the 2014 Maserati Quattroporte:
The 2014 Maserati Quattroporte is a significant leap forward that not only sets the high-technology tone for the Trident brand’s upcoming range of new-models, but also remains faithful to Maserati’s long history of luxury sports sedans. The powerful and proprietary Maserati engines and the large cabin are at the core of the Quattroporte’s design. Dominated by a long, powerful nose and a concave Trident grille a clear link is created to both current and historic Maseratis.
The newly-developed direct-injection engine family boasts a 523 hp 3.8-litre V8 and a 404 hp 3.0-litre V6, both of which are twin-turbocharged, designed by Maserati Powertrain and assembled by Ferrari at their plant in Maranello. All versions come equipped with the latest eight-speed automatic transmission developed with ZF. The V8 is the fastest, most powerful and efficient four-door Maserati has ever built, reaching 60 mph in 4.6 seconds and achieving a top speed of 191 mph.
The all-new architecture retains the Quattroporte’s exquisite handling with near 50:50 weight distribution, double-wishbone front suspension and a state-of-the-art five-link rear suspension. The V6 twin turbo Q4 All-Wheel Drive variant is capable of a top speed of 177mph. The “Q4” system is capable of redistributing the torque instantly from full rear wheel drive to a balanced near 50/50 distribution between front and rear wheels when more traction is needed. New standards of quality in design, development, fabrication and process controls are employed in the facility building the Quattroporte, while traditional hand-crafted design continues inside and out of the Quattroporte’s cabin. Interior luxury leaps forward technically, too, with features like a touch control screen, adjustable pedals, WLAN-based WiFi and an optional 15-speaker, 1280 Watt Bowers & Wilkins audio system.
In 1963, Maserati established the benchmark for the luxury sports sedan. The new Quattroporte continues to elevate the standard of high quality engineering, supercar performance all within the space, luxury and daily driving ability of a sedan.
About Robb Report
Now in its 37th year, and with 12 international editions, Robb Report is the international authority on the luxury lifestyle. The brand, in its digital, iPad, tablet, and print forms, reports on exceptional products and services for the affluent connoisseur. Coverage includes automobiles, motorcycles, aircraft, art, dining, jewelry, watches, fashion, travel, homes, wines, spirits, cigars, and fine dining. For more information, visit the Robb Report website at www.robbreport.com.
Maserati produces a full line of two and four door models legendary for their spacious handcrafted luxury, thoroughbred performance and everyday usability. In 2013 Maserati introduced the full size Quattroporte and the midsize Ghibli sport sedans. Both are available with All Wheel Drive, a race bred twin turbo 404 HP V6 and an adaptive 8 speed automatic transmission. The flagship Quattroporte GTS leads the charge with a 523 HP twin turbo V8. The two door GranTurismo line continues with several variants of coupes and convertibles which combine elegance comfort for four with a six speed automatic transmission to keep the legendary Maserati performance and exhaust note close at hand.
See the current Park Place Maserati Inventory at http://maseratidallas.parkplacetexas.com/.