Mercedes SUV Automatically Works Itself Free From Sand Dune

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Air suspension helps the Mercedes GLE SUV prototype practically jump out of trouble on its own.

Videos like this from Car & Driver’s official YouTube page are refreshing to us, as they indicate that Mercedes isn’t about to go soft when it comes to the off-road prowess of their SUVs. Utilizing a system called Freischaukelfunktion, or “rocking function,” this Mercedes GLE can get itself un-suck from being beached on a sand dune. It sounds simple, but even for a proper Mercedes SUV 4×4, getting stuck in sand is a sticky situation.

Sand dune Mercedes SUV GLE rocking function

Mercedes SUV in a Sand Trap? No Problem.

Sandy surfaces cause a problem when a vehicle’s wheels dig into the ground and sink, rather than gain traction and move forward or backward. Spin the tires more, and the situation gets worse. To solve this, Mercedes has developed a system which rapidly raises and lowers the air suspension in a way that lets sand build up under the wheels. Watching the video, you can see how this technique actually lifts the car up a little bit. That clearance is enough to start the car rocking.

Much like hill decent control, we assume this sand extraction feature is something activated from within the car. Since wheel spin is needed, traction control is turned off, meaning the feature likely de-activates once the car has some momentum.

It appears as though throttle inputs are timed with each “jump,” and soon after some momentum is gained, the car is simply able to drive away from the sand trap. Impressive, considering the GLE isn’t quite the off-road monster that the Mercedes G-Wagen is with locking differentials and portal axles.

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE Rendering

While other manufacturers are using unibody designs that are drifting further and further away from a car that actually is capable off-road, it is refreshing to see that Mercedes remains the go-anywhere SUV you’d expect, with capabilities beyond what you’ll ever likely use. But hey, if you’re planning a camping trip off-road, it’s nice to know it can.

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Patrick Morgan is an instructor at Chicago's Autobahn Country Club and contributes to a number of Auto sites, including MB World and 6SpeedOnline.

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