This is where it is literally possible to experience at first hand a phenomenon familiar from the realm of acoustics: the masking effect. "When you are out on the road in a normal vehicle these days, you hardly notice the exterior noises such as wind noise, because they are overlaid by the engine noise. These noises are missing from an electric vehicle – and even the airstream seems much louder," Markus Riedel explains. It is a similar story with the various vibration frequencies: "Naturally we can try to dampen away all the vehicle's lower-frequency body movements. But the high-frequency vibrations remain – and this is that tingling in the stomach that many people find so unpleasant."
In the Handling or Moving-Base Driving Simulator one floor up, the focus is on the topic of safety and self-assurance. With its ball structure on a twelve-metre rail, the 360-degree screen, sound systems for reproducing the wind noise and a fast electric drive, it is not dissimilar to a flight simulator. Here, too, the data sets created by supercomputers serve to replicate driving situations which appear as real as possible to the test subjects. The difference is that they are sitting in a complete vehicle body here and can accelerate, steer and brake for themselves.
In this way even dynamic driving manoeuvres such as a double lane change or the effect that a strong lateral gust of wind has on the suspension can be studied extensively. "Many people think that in Development we just deal with steering, braking, damping, etc. But the Handling Simulator also helps us learn which tyres are suitable for which setup, or if the aerodynamics still need to be optimised," says Markus Riedel. The big advantage of simulations is that the results are always objective and reproducible, whilst subjective assessments in the actual test vehicle can tend to vary. Plus the control units required for handling have to be configured for the Mercedes-Benz driving character in a targeted manner. We have the Hardware-in-the-Loop laboratory for configuring the control units.