The two joysticks, known as side sticks, were actually on either side of the driver. Mercedes compared them to video game controllers, and more attractive to jet controls. “A technical bridge to aviation,” they called it. In this happy R129, which is still in the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, you can steer, accelerate, turn, horn, activate the indicators and scare the passengers by screaming: “Somebody stole the steering wheel!”
“The R129 with side stick control was the fully functional result of many years [our emphasis] Projects like this exclusively electronically controlled SL are an expression of the consistent will to innovate – and testify to the fact that Mercedes-Benz has researched driving without a steering wheel and pedals at Mercedes-Benz, that Daimler is taking responsibility for the constant further development of the car as a state-of-the-art mobility system. ”
The concept is based on common sense, but nonetheless based. It would eliminate some parts in and out of the interior like the steering wheel and pedals, and you would simply move the sticks from left to right to switch from left to right hand drive. In this case, the engineers took advantage of the extra space on the R129’s dashboard to add a pull-out shelf with a mobile workstation from the late 1990s.
But let’s let Mercedes explain the system in its own timely, strangely translated press release from the original F200:
“Drive-by-wire is a technical solution that has consequences for the interior, for example. When there are no more steering wheels or pedals, passengers have more space and thus more comfort. It is also used for safety as the cockpit and footwell can be designed completely differently.
“The F200 Imagination embodies the thorough networking of electronic systems. One result is the advanced control of the driving dynamics. The electronics recognize the driver’s commands as requirements for a certain driving condition – accelerate, brake, steer, drive backwards and decide at lightning speed how the commands should best and most safely be carried out. ”
Even at lightning speed, people – and by that we mean Mercedes customers – didn’t ask for side sticks. No good idea goes unpunished.
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