Mercedes-Benz Innovation and Technology Day: A look at EV technologies including the Vision EQXX, EQE, and Level-3 driving

During an Innovation and Technology day held in Los Angeles, Electrek got the opportunity to learn about some of the current and upcoming technologies Mercedes-Benz is developing around its EQ series of EVs. This includes a close up look at the VISION EQXX concept, a ride along in the upcoming EQE sedan, and experiencing Level-2 and Level-3 autonomous driving.

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Mercedes-Benz Intelligent Park Technology

As Mercedes-Benz continues to expand is repertoire of EV models that are worthy of the German automaker’s name, it’s clear that it is putting much effort into developing EV and autonomous technologies that will help maintain its position as one of the best known brands in luxury autos.

We recently covered news of Mercedes-Benz showcasing its Intelligent Park Technology developed with Bosch to promote automated valet parking. Electrek was invited to a live demonstration at the InterContinental in Downtown Los Angeles, where we got a close look at an EQS sedan autonomously navigating the garage and parking itself in a charging stall.

Not to be outdone, Mercedes invited us to its Innovation and Technology event in Santa Monica the following day, offering a closer glimpse of some of its current and upcoming EV technologies explained first hand by the experts and engineers that helped develop them.

A deeper dive into the VISION EQXX Concept

During the all-day event, Mercedes had its VISION EQXX Concept EV on display for us to walk around. We went into the latest details of this EV concept in early January, when Mercedes officially unveiled it – one year after first announcing it.

No news to really report at this point, but it was interesting to learn more of the intricate details of the design process from the Mercedes team. In the future, it will be interesting to see what technologies within the VISION EQXX make it into production EVs. Mercedes team told us some will, but not all.

One interesting feature was the concept EV’s navigation system, which was designed using a gaming engine as well as a 3D navigational environment developed with another company. Combined with more energy efficient pixels and an AI system that can curate playlists and navigate you on scenic routes to your destination, the future looks rather intuitive for Mercedes-Benz drivers.

Looking ahead, Mercedes will take the one and only drivable VISION EQXX on a 1,000 km journey from Germany to the South of France to showcase its range and 95% battery efficiency from the pack to the actual tires. The team told us that the electric drivetrain and battery in the EQXX will be present on Mercedes’ next generation MMA EV platform.

The automaker’s current platform, called the EVA2, supports upcoming EV models like the Mercedes-Benz EQE, and we got to go for a ride in one up to Malibu.

Taking the Mercedes EQE EV up the California coast

One of the next EV models to debut from Mercedes in the US this year is the EQE sedan, a slightly more compact version of the EQS. According to MB engineer Fabian Wuttke, who took me for my ride up North, the EQE’s wheelbase is about 3.5 inches shorter than its sibling.

Despite its sportier, more compact size, the EQE still can fit the 56-inch curved MBUX Hyperscreen that sweeps across nearly the entire width of the cabin. One specific section of the Hyperscreen was dedicated to me as the passenger, giving me control of my own 12.3-inch OLED display surface.

What else is cool is the safety feature Mercedes has integrated into this EV, which you can see demonstrated in the video below. As Wuttke drove, I put on a video. But when his eyes diverted from the road to my screen, the content was blocked out, notifying him to refocus on driving. These are some of the biological reading technologies we will see more and more, especially as autonomous driving assistance becomes more prevalent.

Overall, I thought the EQE drove smoothly and quietly on top of being loaded with luxury features for both the driver and their passengers. I’d be remiss to say however, that I was under the impression we would be getting the chance to drive the EV, and that was not the case. Will have to hold out for next event, so expect that in the future.

Experiencing “DISTRONIC” and “DRIVE PILOT” assist

While I was disappointed that I didn’t get a chance behind the wheel of the EQE, I was less shocked that I couldn’t drive during the demonstration of Mercedes-Benz’ driving assist software on the highway. I’m not exactly AV certified after all.

During a 45-minute drive from Santa Monica to the east side of LA, I got to ride shotgun and experience SAE Level 2 drive assist, which Mercedes-Benz calls “DISTRONIC Active Distance Assist.” Mercedes has been delivering Level 2 autonomy in its vehicles for years now, but with DISTRONIC, the vehicle can maintain a preselected distance to the vehicle in front of it ,while also maintaining other assist features like lane keep and active steering.

At Level-2, the driver must keep their hands on the wheel, but that is not as much the case for Mercedes’ new DRIVE PILOT feature. DRIVE PILOT is SAE Level-3 surround sensor system that builds off of the aforementioned driving assistance package. It utilizes LiDAR, cameras, stereo sensors, and microphones to detect all the surroundings around the vehicle and ensure safety.

When you are stuck in traffic, you can activate DRIVE PILOT to completely take over for you. Luckily we were in Los Angeles, so traffic was easy to come by. The system will detect the vehicle in front and maintain a safe distance, while still keeping up with the flow of traffic (currently up to 40 mph). This leaves the driver more freedom for work or leisure, whether it’s focusing on a call, checking emails, or browsing the internet.

If traffic begins to dissipate, the system will notify the driver that it is losing its target vehicle ahead and they will once again need to take over and drive. According to Mercedes, it is the first automotive company to meet the legal requirements of the international UN-R157 for a Level 3 system², enabling conditionally automated driving in the EU. So far, it is offered in Germany where 8,200 miles of highway have already been approved for use.

In the US, Mercedes-Benz is seeking certification for highway use, but currently must get approval state by state. The first two up will be California and Nevada. The automaker is anticipating approval in these states before year’s end. Here’s a little intro video from MB explaining the tech:

Other Mercedes-Benz EV news and updates

  • In addition to the EQS, EQB, and EQE, the Mercedes team shared it is working on an EQE SUV for the US in addition to the previously teased EQS SUV.
  • The Mercedes-Benz EQE is scheduled to enter the market in the second half of this year.
  • The Mercedes team is working with its charging partners to deliver “Plug & Charge” capabilities through the me App. Partners mentioned were ChargePoint, Electrify America, flo, EVGo, and Electric Circuit.
  • Mercedes-Benz has invested in Sila, a silicon battery material manufacturer. The automaker is anticipating high silicon anodes by mid-decade delivering energy densities of 800 Wh/l (current cells are around 550 Wh/l).
  • The company has also invested in Factorial Energy (US) and Prologium Technology (China) for solid-state battery technology. It is aiming to be a contender in that battery space by 2025 or 2026.

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