Over the years, we’ve come to recognise the Mercedes-Benz S-Class as a sort of wheeled preview of the future; an impressive showcase of high-tech gadgetry, driving aids and safety systems from Stuttgart that eventually make their way into everyday cars – in some instances as much as decades later.

The incumbent W221 is already a technological tour de force, with features such as infrared Night View Assist, PRE-SAFE, Distronic Plus radar-guided cruise control and Active Body Control – but as always, the next-in-line, the W222, is set to further raise the bar when it hits markets next year.

For a start, it will be the first car in the world to not use a single light bulb – Mercedes says its LEDs consume a quarter of the power needed to run conventional headlamps. Out of consideration for other motorists, the indicators and brake lights will also reduce their intensity at night or while waiting at traffic lights – another world first.

There’s also the introduction of what Mercedes calls the Stereo Multi-Purpose Camera. Positioned behind the windscreen in the vicinity of the rear-view mirror, the camera is capable of three dimensional detection of crossing objects and pedestrians, and calculating their path. This spatial information is then fed to the numerous assistance systems through a control unit which amalgamates all data.

“The intelligent assistance systems of the future will be able to analyse complex situations and recognise potential dangers out on the road with the aid of improved environment sensor systems even more accurately than today,” says Prof Dr Thomas Weber who is in charge of research for Daimler Group and development for Mercedes-Benz Cars. “The next S-Class won’t just have eyes at the front; it will have 360-degree all-round vision.”

A summary of the assistance systems on the next Mercedes S-Class (see some interior spy shots here) can be found in the gallery, as well as photos of the company’s ‘Moving Base’ driving simulator in Sindelfingen, Germany.