There are times when you see new innovation in a car and you sort of do a double-take. You realize, how is that even possible?
I remember the first time I saw a bird’s eye view in a car. The technology stitches together the view from cameras on all sides of the vehicle and makes it seem like there is a drone (or a bird) flying overhead so you can see all around the car.
Recently, Mercedes-Benz one-upped that technology.
In the 2021 Mercedes-Benz E 450 AMG Coupe, there’s a heat map that comes up when you pull forward in the garage (and technically it works whenever you are close to other objects at low speeds). If you have ever seen a heat map in a movie before, one that shows a soldier moving through a building, you have a head start on how this works.
In real-time, the display shows objects around the E 450 and the heat map adjusts as you move closer to those objects. It’s easier to understand through a short video clip, which we posted on TikTok right here.
As you can see, the heat map can detect the boxes in my garage and a bike over to the side, along with a few random camping supplies. As you pull forward, the heat map monitors objects and (pray it doesn’t happen) shows if anything looks like it might teeter and fall onto the car. If you see something, you could stop or move away as you pull into the space.
In practice, I found this to be invaluable. The heat map pulls up automatically as you ease into the garage, so you can judge if you are getting too close to a bike or a lawnmower. A radar is monitoring objects, so if they move you will see a warning in the display.
It’s hard to describe unless you see the video or watch it in person because it almost feels like a science-fiction movie and you are in a starcruiser and not a loaded, high-performance coupe. Maybe this is a starcruiser that detects camping gear and not meteorites, but still.
It’s one of those features I liked so much I dragged people over to the E 450 and had them sit in the passenger seat just to see how it works. I would inch forward and they would gasp a little (for real) at the real-time monitoring. There was a similar reaction when I used to show people the bird’s eye view and trick them into thinking it was some sort of satellite technology.
What could this do in addition to spotting tents and sleeping bags in my garage? I’m sure Mercedes has thought of this, but heat maps could be handy for all normal driving including heavy traffic and when a deer crosses in front of you. I am again picturing a soldier in a building who appears as a faint red glow. Heat maps are also intuitive. When you see one, you know it is monitoring something and showing any danger signs to you.
In the future, the warning might be related to another car or even things like falling objects on the road. I used the heat map for parking at an office and it came in handy for the entire week of testing. It’s an amazing new feature — and amazingly useful.