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Mercedes launches Attention Assist

Wed, 13 Aug 2008

By Ben Whitworth

Motor Industry

13 August 2008 13:28

Mercedes-Benz researchers call it the ‘one-second nap’ – that instant when fatigue overcomes you at the wheel on a long trip and you wake up in hospital. To counter dozing off while driving, which Mercedes claims accounts for a quarter of all major motorway accidents, its engineers have developed an innovative driver support system called Attention Assist.

As well as registering linear and lateral acceleration, indicator and pedal operation and vehicle speed, the system also monitors steering response - the most important indicator of fatigue according to Mercedes, is tired drivers have difficulty in keeping their vehicle precisely on track.

Tests by Mercedes engineers involving more than 550 male and female drivers have shown that this steering correction effect commences during an early phase of the onset of fatigue – usually before the highly dangerous ‘one-second nap’. During the first few minutes of each journey, Attention Assist uses these sensors to compile an individual driver's behaviour pattern. This is then constantly compared with the current steering behaviour and driving situation by the onboard electronic control unit.

Mercedes claims its system can recognise the driver’s transition from alertness to drowsiness, emitting a loud audio warning and displaying ‘Attention Assist. Break!’ in the car’s instrument display panel. The system will be rolled out next year on S-Class and, like ESP, will eventually become a standard safety fixture on all Mercedes models.

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By Ben Whitworth