Mercedes-Benz is lacing its new autos with some very smart tech that will determine if you’re too tired to drive. Nearly 100,000 crashes in the U.S. annually, are caused by driver sleepiness, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Those are just the types of accidents that Mercedes wants to tackle with its new feature.
The new cars are laced with sensors that feed the custom Attention-Assist software. The sensors provide the system with data on acceleration, how the wheel is being turned and whether turn signals are being used. The software then compares the drivers interaction with the car to a database of examples of sleepy driver behavior that Mercedes researchers have collected.
If a drowsy driver begins to drift off in any direction without indicating, yanks the wheel suddenly as if they’re snapping awake, or displays any number of other subtle indicators of over-tiredness, then the car will attempt to alert the driver of the situation with a display icon of a steaming coffee cup, and a further “Pause!” command on the digital speedometer. Though it stops short of wresting control of the wheel or stopping the car entirely–that would simply be too dangerous–the alerts tell the driver that it’s time to rest, assuming the driver isn’t too sleepy to notice. I suspect there’s some sort of audio alarm for exactly that reason.
The attention-assist system will be outfitted in 2010 E-class and S-class vehicles.
If you could combine this with Mercedes’ Splitview system that’s designed to let drivers and passengers navigate and watch movies simultaneously, and Ford’s automatic parallel-parking device, then your automobile would be approaching KITT levels of sophistication. Let’s just hope that Mercedes’ system has a voice warning that’s less nasal and whiny–though that might be just what you need to wake you up on a dreary 2 a.m. freeway journey.