Feeling drowsy? Not paying attention? Your Mercedes may be able to help.
Official photos of the 2010 E-class are still a couple months away, but Mercedes is so excited about the safety technology set to appear on the new sedan (as well as on the refreshed 2010 S-class) that it flew us over for a briefing in Germany.
Hardware details of the E-class were scarce—torsional rigidity is up a claimed 30 percent and its coefficient of drag, at 0.25, will be better than the slippery Toyota Prius's—but Mercedes continues to develop technologies that can outsmart the driver. Ulrich Mellinghoff, vice president in charge of safety at Mercedes-Benz, is happy to usher in the autonomous car: in his words, "cars that see, feel, and act for the driver."
We're not sure we share his elation. What's next, cars that are incapable of exceeding the speed limit? Either way, here's the new—and far less controversial—safety technology coming for 2010.
Attention Assist: Detecting Drowsy Drivers
Research indicates that as many as 30 percent of traffic accidents are related to drowsiness, and these are often the most catastrophic. Many automakers are pursuing systems that monitor the driver's eye movement with a camera, but Mercedes isn't convinced, claiming that these systems provide warnings too late, don't work very well with drivers who wear glasses, and require additional hardware such as a camera and infrared lighting. That's why the company has developed its own system, called Attention Assist, that's based mostly on the driver's steering behavior and requires only a more accurate steering-angle sensor.
Keep Reading: 2010 Mercedes-Benz E-class and S-class: Safety Technology - Car News