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Daimler Buses at the IAA 2016: The Future of Mobility

HANNOVER – Even safer, more efficient and more comfortable: the semi-automated Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot shows what local transport services of the future will look like. Connectivity, camera and radar systems, as well as the use of data fusion catapult city buses into the future.

  • Mercedes-Benz Future Bus: spectacular technology platform
  • 20 km journey without steering, accelerating and without brake pedal

Mercedes-Benz is showing the spectacular technology in an equally spectacular technological show-piece: the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot. Both of these represent a milestone not only in terms of the history of the bus, but also on the road to autonomous and accident-free driving.

The technology behind CityPilot in the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus is based on the self-driving Mercedes-Benz Actros with Highway Pilot, which was unveiled two years ago at the IAA. Due to its specific application in a city bus, the technology was further developed in a targeted manner, seeing the addition of numerous additional functions.

Mercedes-Benz Future BusAccordingly, CityPilot can recognise traffic lights, communicate with them and drive safely over junctions equipped with traffic lights. It can also detect obstacles and, above all, pedestrians on the road, automatically braking in response to them. Furthermore, it automatically drives up to bus stops, where the doors are opened and closed automatically. And last but not least, it is also capable of driving through tunnels.

Around a dozen cameras scan the roadway and surrounding area. Long- and short-range radar systems continuously scan the road ahead. The system also draws upon a GPS system. All data is collated and, by means of data fusion, provides an extremely precise picture and thus makes it possible to position the bus precisely down to the last centimetre.

The semi-automated city bus increases safety by taking the pressure off the driver, while its cameras and radar systems keep everything perfectly in view. It improves efficiency because its smooth and anticipatory driving style protects the major assemblies, reduces fuel consumption and thus simultaneously also the emissions. Meanwhile, the smooth, steady journey also increases the comfort for passengers on-board.

Mercedes-Benz Future Bus: spectacular technology platform

The CityPilot is presented in the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus as a technology platform. The around 12 m long solo bus based on the globally best-selling Citaro is a completely new departure in terms of exterior and interior design. Its harmonious lines and asymmetrical contours take their lead from city architecture. Whether with its design, lighting, door layout or information systems – the unique Mercedes-Benz Future Bus fully lives up to its name.

The same applies to the interior, the open-plan design of which takes its lead from city squares and parks. The passenger compartment is truly a passenger’s dream. It is divided into three zones for different lengths of stay. Designer seats are loosely arranged along the walls in each zone. Innovative grab rails reflect the park-like theme by branching upwards like trees towards the two-tone ceiling. The ceiling lighting resembles a leaf canopy. Operators are able to relay information and entertainment via large monitors in the middle segment of the passenger compartment. The completely newly designed cockpit is an integral part of the interior space. The driver receives the information he/she requires from a large screen with an innovative display.

20 km journey without steering, accelerating and without brake pedal

The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot completed its first public journey in July in the Netherlands. It drove on a section of Europe’s longest Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) route which links Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and the town of Haarlem. This almost 20 km route posed quite a challenge for the Mercedes-Benz Future Bus as it included a number of bends, tunnels and traffic-light-controlled junctions.

The Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot met the challenges superbly:

it had a top speed of 70 km/h on the open road, was able to recognise obstacles and pedestrians on the road, came to a precise halt at bus stops, opened and closed its doors, moved off automatically and communicated with traffic light systems. At no point along the entire route did the driver need to accelerate or brake, and only in the case of opposing traffic was the steering wheel held in accordance with the road traffic regulations. What’s more, the driver could intervene at any point and instantly take back control of the vehicle if required.

Mercedes-Benz Future Bus with CityPilot – the future of the city bus is here. This pioneering bus is ideal for BRT systems, which help towards solving traffic problems in densely populated areas and metropolitan regions all over the world. It operates highly efficient, significantly improves the level of safety and takes the pressure off the driver. Daimler Buses is developing the bus transport system of tomorrow.

Efficiency: higher efficiency thanks to more economical, cleaner and more powerful engines

  • Heavey-duty OM 470 inline six-cylinder engine – reduced consumption, increased top performance
  • Approval for alternative fuels
  • Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT: even quieter and more clean thanks to its gas engine
  • Mercedes-Benz minibuses: more powerful engines, higher weights, new equipment

Fuel consumption and emissions are down even further, while performance and robustness are up – the latest version of the compact, heavy-duty Mercedes-Benz OM 470 inline six-cylinder engine with 10.7 l displacement is an all-round star. It forms the centrepiece of Mercedes-Benz and Setra buses. It can be used in the low-floor articulated Citaro G as well in the rural-service buses of both brands, and even in the high-deck touring coaches.

Heavy-duty OM 470 inline six-cylinder engine – reduced consumption, increased top performance

16c632_31_880x500The newest generation of the Mercedes-Benz OM 470 profits both from the technical prowess of the larger OM 471 engine which was further developed last year, as well as from its own set of technological features. New aspects are a considerably raised maximum injection pressure, the injection jets themselves, the combustion chamber and increased compression.

Then comes a patented solution for exhaust gas recirculation with stepless control, asymmetric injection and a new turbocharger developed in-house with top-level efficiency – all of these optimise the fuel consumption. When the engine is used in touring coaches, it lowers the consumption by around 2.5 percent, by around 2.4 percent in rural-service buses and by around two percent in the Citaro G. This doesn’t just relieve strain on your wallet but also on the environment thanks to lower emissions.

At the same time, the complexity of the engine was able to be reduced by omitting a wastegate valve and boost pressure control, as well as the EGR sensor and EGR control. The robustness of the engine was also again able to be increased thanks to it being purely pilot-operated.

Typical for the engines is a very steep increase in torque and power in the middle engine speed range, as well as a reduction in the nominal engine speed from 1800 rpm to 1600 rpm. Excellent drivability with high agility and a very widely usable engine speed range result from this.

A new top-of-the-range variant with a power output of 335 kW (456 hp) and powerful maximum torque of 2200 Nm is also being introduced. This variant is available as an option for the Setra S 515 HD, S 516 HD/2, S 516 HD and S 517 HD high-deck versions of the ComfortClass 500. Power transmission is handled either by the new GO 230 six-speed manual transmission (standard) or the GO 250-8 PowerShift fully-automated transmission which is available as special equipment.

Approval for alternative fuels

Mercedes-Benz buses have now been approved for the use of alternative fuels compliant with the prEN 15940 standard. They include Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO), Biomass To Liquid (BTL), Gas To Liquid (GTL) and Coal To Liquid (CTL). These are various resources that are turned into fuel by chemical processing. The approval is for engines OM 936 and OM 936 h (7.7 l displacement), OM 470 (10.7 l) and OM 471 (12.8 l), all with effect from February 2016. It also applies to the latest generation of OM 470 and OM 471.

As the properties of the fuels to prEN 15940 standard are identical to those of diesel fuel made from mineral oil, no changes whatsoever are required to the engines or their peripherals. The engine oil change and particulate filter cleaning intervals remain unchanged. The warranty and guarantee continue to apply without restrictions. The output and torque data remain the same. So far, only NExBTL and C.A.R.E. fuels have been approved for use in auxiliary heaters.

Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT: even quieter and more clean thanks to its gas engine

Quiet running and reduced CO2 emissions, low weight and an impressive passenger capacity, strong power delivery and low fuel consumption, as well as long maintenance intervals – the Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT with M 936 G natural gas engine will celebrate its IAA premiere. It offers clear benefits for driving in heavily frequented inner cities.

The compact and light natural-gas engine with 7.7 l displacement performs like a diesel engine and simultaneously sets milestones in terms of noise and pollutant emissions. The turbo-charged engine is based on the highly modern OM 936 turbodiesel engine. The vertically installed six-cylinder monovalent engine runs on compressed natural gas. It has an output of 222 kW (302 hp) and delivers a peak torque of 1200 Nm consistently between 1200 rmp and 1600 rpm. To some extent, the natural gas engine undercuts the Euro VI emissions limits by a considerable margin. Power transmission is handled by means of an automatic transmission equipped with a torque converter.

The newly developed gas tanks can be found under a cover on the roof. The tanks are made of a composite material with a plastic core and are coated with carbon fibre and glass fibre layers. This combination of materials is both light and highly robust.

The new gas bottles and the compact engine both serve to lower the additional weight inherent of the Citaro NGT concept when compared with diesel-driven variants. This stands at around 485 kg in the case of a rigid vehicle. Equipped with the standard equipment, the Citaro NGT rigid bus can therefore carry up to 96 passengers, whilst the Citaro G NGT articulated bus can carry 153 passengers.

Mercedes-Benz offers the gas-powered bus as a Citaro NGT rigid bus and as a Citaro G NGT articulated bus. The Citaro NGT can be operated on natural gas or on organic natural gas – in the latter case, driving the vehicle is virtually CO2-neutral. The arguments in favour of the Citaro NGT are really impressive: we have already received three-figure orders of vehicles from Madrid and Augsburg.

Mercedes-Benz minibuses: more powerful engines, higher weights, new equipment

The Mercedes-Benz minibus programme profits from the further development of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter which serves as the basis for the vehicles. The lower power ratings are now significantly more dynamic. The entry-level engine now has an output of 84 kW (114 hp) and attains a torque figure of 300 Nm – this corresponds to an increase of 20 percent in each case. Both of the parameters of the next power stage with its 105 kW (143 hp) output and 330 Nm of torque are around 10 percent greater.

What’s more, Mercedes-Benz has extended the Sprinter product range with the addition of an ex factory Sprinter featuring a permissible gross vehicle weight of 5.5 t. For the mid-range weight variants of the Sprinter Mobility, Sprinter Transfer and Sprinter Travel minibus model series, the maximum payload is therefore increased by around 150 kg.

Bus-specific innovations have also been added to the minibus programme: the Sprinter City 65 vehicle exhibited has a new, weight-optimised retarder which, despite offering the same functionality and braking performance, now weighs 15 percent less than the previous version. Equally new is its combined pushchair and wheelchair space, which will be a compulsory component for urban regular-service buses as of 1 July 2017.

The exhibited vehicle also features impressive connectivity equipment, video surveillance of the passenger compartment and a computer-supported operational control system at the entrances with generously dimensioned central monitor for displaying route information. Meanwhile, destination and passenger management are also as much a part of the system as a Wi-Fi media router and USB connections on all seats.

The weight-optimised M1 minibuses from the Sprinter Mobility model series will be released in the second half of the year. The use of innovative composite materials in the airline floor rail system means payload increases of up to 35 kg, depending on the model. Increased ease of access and the omission of an extendible step on the front passenger door makes a new, lowered entry possible, which is optionally available for the Sprinter Mobility, Sprinter Transfer and Sprinter Travel model series.

Safety: greater safety with LED headlamps and improved comfort

  • Coach MediaRouter: for connected, entertaining journeys
  • Composition seat cover: luxury leather
  • Luxury head restraints: bespoke touring coach seats
  • Mercedes-Benz Tourismo: the number one is celebrating its birthday
  • Mercedes-Benz Intouro: 10 000 vehicles on the road
  • Stylish travelling with 1+1 seating in the Setra TopClass 500
  • Setra S 418 LE business: the giant for rural-service lines

A world first for Mercedes-Benz and Setra sees the IAA premiere of the first integrated LED headlamps in a bus. Drivers benefit from light which is less tiring on the eyes: the colour temperature of the light from LED headlamps is very close to that of daylight. A further safety feature: the light flow from an LED lamp remains almost exactly as high across its entire service life. And this service life is many times longer than that of halogen or xenon lamps. Several bulb changes are thus no longer required, and thus their associated costs and downtimes can also be dispensed with. Businesses benefit from LED headlamps thanks to noticeably lower maintenance costs.

The new lamps from Mercedes-Benz and Setra are bi-LED units which handle the dipped-beam and main-beam headlamps in one single housing. In each lamp, five LEDs generate the dipped beam, while three additional lamps produce the high beam. They are available for Setra TopClass 500 and ComfortClass 500 vehicles, as well as for the Mercedes-Benz Citaro. The LEDs have been integrated into the available headlamps of the respective model series. This means that the individual brand and model faces are retained in full, with form and function combined to perfection.

LED main headlamps will be demonstrated by Daimler Buses at the IAA using the Setra ComfortClass S 516 HD high-deck model, the Setra TopClass S 516 HDH super high-decker and the Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT by way of example.

Coach MediaRouter: for connected, entertaining journeys

In long-distance line buses, it’s a must; in tour buses or touring coaches, it raises the game: high-speed internet for passengers is a competitive advantage in the bus travel market. All versions of the Mercedes-Benz Tourismo as well as the Setra ComfortClass 500, TopClass 500 and the double-decker S 431 DT can now be optionally equipped ex factory with a router and antenna.

The Coach MediaRouter incorporates two slots for LTE-capable SIM cards and two USB ports. In addition to simply providing an internet connection, this ensures that users can also use their end devices to access media stored locally in the bus while on-the-road. Accordingly, this reduces the level of internet use.

For a monthly fee per vehicle, a professional Wi-Fi provider provides access to a legally-compliant Wi-Fi hotspot and entertainment package. The user interface of the passenger end devices is optically attractive and user-friendly. What’s more, bus companies can have a personalised landing page which opens after logging in. An optional internet filter for the protection of minors is also available. Bus companies receive a stick which is updated every quarter of the year. It contains an entertainment package with several dozen films and five episodes each from two current television series. Besides this, it also opens up 10 music channels with various programmes. Around 40 to 50 passengers per bus can log in at any one time. An automatic allocation of the available data transfer rate between users is defined in advance.

The entertainment offering via the stick from the internet provider is only the first stage in the future of infotainment on-board buses. Holidaymakers or tour guides can also use the Coach MediaRouter to present their photos and videos from the holiday. They are saved on a USB stick, which then transfers the photos, videos and music to the router. This in turn shares the content with the passengers via a stream. The feature doesn’t only apply to entertainment and holiday memories, rather it can also be used for presentations and videos or other company information in the event of business-related journeys in the rental-bus market.

Bus companies can also use it to advertise their special offers or their complete catalogue, and even display their on-board food and beverages range. A further information and entertainment possibility is to provide passengers with tips on the destination of the journey or the country in which they are currently travelling.

Mercedes-Benz and Setra will be presenting the new Coach MediaRouter at the IAA in all of the touring coaches exhibited.

Composition seat cover: luxury leather

Equally a first at the IAA: composition leather material is used on the headrests and seats instead of the classic leather covering. Composition consists of leather fibres, is grained, breathable and has all the positive properties of leather. Composition is much easer to clean and maintain, however, making it ideal for use on buses and coaches.

Composition is used by Mercedes-Benz and Setra to cover the headrest, backrest, seat cushion and the side elements of the seats. The material has, just like all other materials and leather, been subject to and has passed our own lab testing. The colours available are matched to the current material collection.

At the IAA, Mercedes-Benz and Setra will both be presenting the Composition leather material in a variety of variants. This ranges from the covering of headrests to leather/fabric combinations for touring coach seats, right up to the unique covering of the luxury Voyage Ambassador seating which feature multi-part leather/fabric combinations for seat surfaces and backrests, black backrests and seat pockets as well as design elements in “Mystic White”; these will be shown in a super high-deck Setra S 516 HDH.

Luxury head restraints: bespoke touring coach seats

Mercedes-Benz and Setra seats are tailored to the passengers: the touring coaches are optionally available with adjustable luxury head restraints for passengers. These increase the backrest height by 40 mm and are steplessly extendible by up to 85 mm and can thus be perfectly adapted to the individual passenger’s height. As the side bolsters of the head restraints are also adjustable, the head is optimally supported like in a comfortable wing chair during a nap. The new luxury head restraints have a maximum width of 260 mm and therefore only minimally restrict the field of vision of passengers at the rear.

Mercedes-Benz and Setra will be presenting the new luxury head restraints at the IAA in the Mercedes-Benz Tourismo M, Setra ComfortClass S 515 HD and Setra TopClass S 516 HDH touring coaches.

Mercedes-Benz Tourismo: the number one is celebrating its birthday

At the IAA in 2006, it celebrated its world premiere. Now, 10 years on from that and perfectly in time for its 10th birthday, it will roll up to the IAA 2016 as the current European best-seller among touring coaches.

The Mercedes-Benz Tourismo is a true long-term success story. Proof of this comes in the form of record sales figures of over 2000 units being sold last year – this economical and flexible touring coach is something not to be missed. A further reason for that is the broad range of models available, which includes four high-deck vehicles and the compact Tourismo K, not to mention the functional high-floor Tourismo RH touring coach.

At the IAA, the birthday boy is the Tourismo M, a 13 m long high-deck bus with three axles and sophisticated equipment for long-distance routes. Among the equipment are Travel Star Eco seats with Luxline upholstery and height-adjustable head restraints covered with the Composition leather fibre material. Meanwhile, the new Coach MediaRouter is on-board to provide internet access. 230-volt sockets on the seats ensure that passengers can plug in their own electronic devices.

Mercedes-Benz Intouro: 10 000 vehicles on the road

Huge milestone for a long-term best-seller at the IAA: during the exhibition, Mercedes-Benz will be handing over the keys to the 10 000th Intouro. The highly economical and functional rural-service bus is a favourite for bus companies Europe-wide who keep a critical eye on their finances.

The Intouro is available as a two-axle model in three length variants. Drive is ensured by compact Mercedes-Benz OM 936 inline six-cylinder engines with 7.7 l displacement which deliver either 220 kW (299 hp) or 260 kW (354 hp) of power. A broad selection of transmissions is available: there is a six-speed manual transmission, a fully-automated Mercedes-Benz GO 250-8 PowerShift transmission or a torque converter automatic transmission – the Intouro is immensely flexible.

Another proof of this is the anniversary vehicle which features a lift at the central door, comfortable Travel Star Eco seating, folding seats in the special use area opposite the entrance, luggage stowage compartments with closed base, air-conditioning system and double-glazing. The 2017 model year of the Intouro can be identified by some visible changes: notably that the engine flap now bears just one ventilation grille on the right-hand side; the grille on the left-hand side is now omitted.

Stylish travelling with 1+1 seating in the Setra TopClass 500

TopClass 500 – this designation stands for the top-of-the-range model series from Setra. Setra’s Voyage Ambassador 1+1 seating configuration can be personalised by the customer and demonstrates stylish travelling at its best. Swivelling seats with generously-proportioned folding leather armrests as well as stowage compartments and a folding drinks holder are all par for the course.

Adjustable luxury head restraints, clip-on tables in the side wall, sockets at each seat, stowage pockets left and right, illuminated stowage compartments under each seat as well as footwell illumination allow the seats to meet the highest of expectations.

Setra will be presenting the seating arrangement in a 13.3 m super high-deck TopClass S 516 HDH. Among other things, the vehicle is equipped with ambient lighting as well as the TopSky Panorama glass roof.

Setra S 418 LE business: the giant for rural-service lines

Depending on the equipment, it has space for up to 100 passengers, with full seating it offers a maximum of 63 seats. It also offers barrier-free access thanks to the broad, low-floor area in front of both rear axles – if rural-service lines have great capacity requirements, the Setra S 418 LE business is truly in its element. The highly economical three-axle bus will be celebrating its premiere at the IAA.

It is predestined for public tenders. Flexibility is its thing: various door versions, single or double special use areas with a wheelchair or pushchair place opposite the second door, additional special use area in front of the second door, different types of seating and tyres, two power stages, four transmission variants – the 14.64 m long rural-service bus is a real all-rounder. At the IAA it will be shown with 57 seats as well as a special use area opposite the second door and additional folding seats.

Service: extended 24h Service with telediagnosis, Bus Depot Management, long-distance bus service

  • Bus Depot Management: tip-top fleet thanks to service direct from the manufacturer
  • Long-distance bus service: a tailored service for long-distance vehicles

16c632_41_880x500The Omniplus service brand for buses from Mercedes-Benz and Setra will be presenting a bundle of new services at this year’s IAA. The new telediagnosis service will be in central focus. It optimises the 24h Service and can drastically reduce downtimes caused by breakdowns. The only prerequisite is that the bus is equipped with the FleetBoard telematics service.

If a Mercedes-Benz or Setra bus breaks down, the driver can transfer a whole host of data to 24h Service simply by pressing a button. Accordingly, the bus identifies itself, provides its precise location using geo-coordinates and not only transfers the current error code, but also any other saved codes.

The data is sent to the nearest Omniplus service centre where it is interpreted. This service offers a number of advantages: the driver doesn’t have to explain as much information over the phone, the exact location is known and misunderstandings can be avoided. Already before the service technician sets out to the scene, the error codes allow him/her to prepare appropriately for the breakdown case in question and, where possible, to take along any special tools and parts required.

If the data allows a serious downtime to be identified, Omniplus can, in discussion with the driver and the company, already arrange for a replacement vehicle to be made available. This prevents passengers from having to wait around unnecessarily for their journey to continue.

Bus Depot Management: tip-top fleet thanks to service direct from the manufacturer

Nobody is in a better position to maintain and repair buses than the manufacturer itself. This is the reason behind Omniplus developing Bus Depot Management. Authorised Omniplus service centres perform services at the customer’s own workshop. The offer is aimed at fleet operators. Its basis is formed by a long-term maintenance and repairs contract, for example as part of an invitation to tender.

Depending on the details of the contract, Omniplus covers the costs of the regular maintenance and repair work, including paint and body repairs on-site at the depot. Omniplus provides qualified members of staff for the workshop, precisely organises the spare parts store to suit requirements and looks after the procurement of spare parts.

Fleets experience a significant increase in vehicle availability as a result of Bus Depot Management, whilst also saving on unnecessary journeys, downtimes and administrative work. Buses are always looked after to the full and maintain a higher value.

Long-distance bus service: a tailored service for long-distance vehicles

Long-distance line buses are the bus world’s equivalent of long-distance runners. Per year, they cover an impressive six-figure number of kilometres. Thus, it’s all the more important that they are subject to a highly specialised service. Omniplus has therefore come up with the long-distance bus service which will initially only be offered for the German market. Around 90 service centres along the most important routes and at major hubs or significant terminals have since joined the initiative.

They offer specific services for long-distance buses. Included as standard are the regular long-distance bus check, checks of all important technical and safety functions on the bus, as well as washing the exterior, emptying the waste water tank, refilling the fresh water and stocking a greater number of parts and accessories for all common Mercedes-Benz and Setra long-distance buses. Depending on the service centre, additional services may also be on offer: interior cleaning, Omniplus GlassService and TireService, mobility concepts featuring collection and delivery service, parking spaces for long-distance buses as well as a replacement vehicle in the event of a breakdown.

Tristan Wiggill
Special Features Editor at Business Fleet Africa