The future drives forward: Mercedes-Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

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Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination 1996 1 The future drives forward: Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

The Mercedes-Benz F 1996 Imagination presented an exciting and almost unbelievable vision of the future at the Paris Motor Show in October 200. Today, many research vehicle technologies have long been part of everyday life in series vehicles. This underscores the importance of constant forward thinking by researchers and developers for the vehicles of tomorrow - a continuous shifting of possibilities and limits. Incidentally, the F 200 Imagination shows what a modern, large coupé can look like - because it heralds the essential design features of the Mercedes-Benz CL, which will debut in 1999. The original research vehicle can be viewed: it is in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in the “Fascination of Technology” area. This can be accessed free of charge via the atrium.

Mercedes-Benz F 200 Imagination

“Computers control the movements of the automobile”, “electronic systems replace mechanical connecting elements”, “optimum driving safety in every situation”: With these and numerous other statements, communication with the F 200 Imagination caused a sensation 25 years ago. And of course the research vehicle itself is causing a sensation. Its most obvious characteristic: it has no steering wheel. The driver controls it with the help of sidesticks and can choose whether to use the right or left hand. Because there is a sidestick in the door panel and a second on the center console. In addition, the front passenger can take over at any time. Because a third sidestick is installed in the paneling of the right door.

Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination 1996 4 The future drives forward: Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

The prerequisite for this is “drive by wire”: the units, such as the steering, are not operated via mechanical connections, but rather via electronics, electrics and mechanical actuating devices. “The electronics recognize the driver's commands as a wish for a certain driving state - accelerate, brake, steer, reverse - and then decide in a flash how best and safest to follow the driver's commands,” describes the press release dated October 1996. "That happens depending on the situation, because the computer uses information from various sensors that give it information about speed, wheel and engine speeds, road surface condition and body movements, among other things." The F 200 Imagination is also tested in the company's own driving simulator. Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in this area too: The company's first driving simulator was inaugurated in 1985. In 1998 the brand presented a further developed sidestick control in a test vehicle based on an SL from the 129 series.

Numerous systems in the F 200 Imagination are part of everyday life in automobiles

Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination 1996 3 The future drives forward: Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

The display system in the F 200 Imagination was not officially called Widescreen Cockpit in 1996. But the parallel to today's Mercedes-Benz equipment and also to MBUX is obvious: color monitors are installed across the entire width of the cockpit. These represent the vehicle instruments and all signals as well as the on-board computer. The displays also show the signals from the video cameras that replace the rear-view mirrors - "rear view systems" are what the press release calls them. In addition, the telephone, navigation system, radio, CD and DVD player are displayed on the monitors. On request, the sound can be transmitted to the front passenger via wireless headphones. The degree of digitization in this research vehicle is considerable: Even the Internet connection including telebanking (as it was called at the time) and digital hotel reservation is being tested: the future drives ahead with the F 200 Imagination in 1996.

Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination 1996 2 The future drives forward: Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

"Drive by wire" has also made it into series vehicles. This is the only way systems such as the Mercedes-Benz DRIVE PILOT can work: In certain situations, the driver is relieved and the car is highly automated. Seen in this light, the F 200 Imagination was a pioneer in autonomous driving 25 years ago. One of the prerequisites for this, which has been standard for many years, is electric steering: the steering wheel is the pulse generator for the controls and actuating devices. At the same time, the system is more economical and thus contributes to the overall efficiency of an automobile.

The F 200 Imagination offers numerous other innovations that are now almost familiar in everyday automotive life. For example, a headlight system with variable light distribution, window bags, the Active Body Control chassis control, voice recognition for the mobile phone, an electrotransparent glass roof and an electrically operated parking brake. All of the technologies mentioned are available in production vehicles from Mercedes-Benz, most of them for many years. Sometimes in a slightly different form, but that is in the nature of things: technology development never stands still. The Mercedes-Benz F 200 Imagination marks this as a strong exclamation mark.

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Photo credit: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination 1996 1 The future drives forward: Mercedes Benz F 200 Imagination in 1996

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