September 19, 2018 – Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel, Deputy Prime Minister of the federal state of Baden-Wuerttemberg Thomas Strobl and numerous guests from politics, business and administration gained an insight into the future of mobility at Mercedes-Benz during the opening ceremony in Immendingen. The company has invested more than €200 million in the Test and Technology Center in the municipality northwest of Lake Constance. Across an area of 520 hectares, a new Mercedes-Benz research location has been constructed since the groundbreaking act in spring 2015.
As we open the Immendingen Test and Technology Center of Mercedes-Benz today, we open a door to the future. Here, Mercedes-Benz bundles competences with the goal of developing and testing new technologies and vehicles in just one location. By building a state-of-the-art technology center, Immendingen has gained a completely new economic perspective and is thus an excellent example of a successful structural change.
CASE – further development of the four future areas
Approximately 300 jobs will be created at Mercedes-Benz in Immendingen. 170 employees are already developing and testing on more than 30 different test tracks, on which various driving conditions can be simulated. A particular focus is placed on the four strategic future areas of connectivity (connected), autonomous driving (autonomous), flexible use (shared) and electric drive (electric). Daimler has summarized these under the term “CASE.”
With the so-called Bertha Area (an area for testing highly automated vehicles), engineers have a test module of 100,000 square meters at their disposal that is specially designed for all topics related to automated driving. The maneuvers performed there focus in particular on automated driving and the safety functions of current and future driver assistance systems along the way to autonomous driving. Challenging and complex traffic situations can be reproduced with high precision and as often as required.
In the Urban District module, driver assistance systems, car-to-x communication and autonomous driving will be tested under real conditions on a total of 1.5 kilometers of urban roads across various intersections. For example, it is possible to simulate under realistic conditions how highly automated and driverless vehicles communicate with each other to help make traffic safer in large cities.
Openness and transparency
Following an extensive selection process in which about 120 sites were analyzed all over Baden-Wuerttemberg, Mercedes-Benz AG decided in 2011 to focus its plans for a new test and technology center on the Immendingen site. Right from the start, the company received broad support from the municipality and the citizens of Immendingen. Construction work began with the groundbreaking ceremony at the beginning of 2015 on the former training area of the German Army. The first module, the so-called “Uneven Dirt Track,” was opened in September 2016. Here, vehicles are tested under particularly poor road conditions. The aim was to start with individual test modules even during the construction phase in order to ensure continuous testing operation.
Mercedes-Benz is committed to openness and transparency in Immendingen. The company cooperates with associations for the protection of nature and the environment on extensive nature conservation activities, and engages in a dialogue with them on the basis of constructive criticism. The aim is to allow technological progress in harmony with nature. Therefore, habitats for plants and animals have been created on the Immendingen site and areas have been reforested and planted. In addition, a wildlife passage crosses over the entire site. In total, Mercedes-Benz is carrying out offsetting and replacement measures in accordance with nature conservation law on an area of 625 hectares.
Driving maneuvers at the opening
At the opening ceremony, various driving maneuvers demonstrated to the guests the holistic approach to vehicle safety at Mercedes-Benz and gave an insight into research and development for future mobility at Mercedes-Benz:
- Using the example of a possible situation in road traffic, the engineers showed how the coordination of all components affects overall vehicle behavior. With an abrupt lane-change maneuver involving two vehicles at about 60 km/h, the effect on driving stability of careful overall vehicle tuning can be seen in an exemplary and vivid manner.
- As an example of the wide-ranging driver assistance functions of modern Mercedes-Benz vehicles, three situations were shown with a so-called GST (guided soft target), a remote-controlled platform with a plastic superstructure. This demonstrates the effect of Active Brake Assist with turn-off function.
- Also to be seen was intelligent sensor technology, by which a vehicle makes appropriate decisions for each situation to avoid collisions and unnecessary braking.
- With the emergency-lane function of the driver assistance system, Mercedes-Benz is taking a further step towards improving road-traffic safety in traffic jams and is setting an example in this respect. If a traffic jam is detected on a highway and the vehicle is driving at less than 60 km/h, it adjusts its movements to the surrounding vehicles like in a swarm, as well as to detected visual lane markings.
Automated testing allows safety-critical maneuvers to be tested in enclosed areas with maximum accuracy. In the near future, these maneuvers will also be possible without a driver on the BerTha Area, with appropriate safety measures and radio communication.
Model project Immendingen: barracks town becomes a high-tech location
The new Mercedes-Benz Test and Technology Center in Immendingen has been built on the site of the former Oberfeldwebel-Schreiber Barracks, and is thus a prime example of the successful conversion of former military sites. Due to the rapid approval phase, the short construction period and the open and transparent overall process, the Test and Technology Centre is regarded as a model project for major construction projects in Germany.