December 11, 2007

Mercedes-Benz testing driver alertness warning system

Mercedes-Benz fatigue detection warning system
Mercedes-Benz fatigue detection warning system. Click image to enlarge

Stuttgart, Germany – Mercedes-Benz has announced that it is in the final test phases of a new assistance system designed to warn a driver of tiredness and nodding off at the wheel. The system uses various sensors to analyze driving behaviour and recognize fatigue-related changes in the driver’s personal driving style, and will prompt the driver to take a break. Once testing is complete, the system will go into series production in 2009.

Mercedes-Benz says that official statistics cite fatigue as the reason behind one per cent of all serious traffic collisions, but that experts believe that the number of unattributed cases is significantly higher. According to European studies, 24 to 33 per cent of all fatal crashes involve over-tired drivers. Two-thirds of collisions caused by fatigue occur in the dark, half when there is little traffic around; scientists believe the risk is increased on long-distance journeys under unchanging conditions, which causes inattention and the risk of falling asleep.

The Mercedes system evaluates a series of indicators to assess the driver’s alertness and to recognize the gradual transition between being awake and being tired. Warnings will also depend on the time of day, trip duration and the individual’s driving style. The system uses speed, acceleration, steering wheel angle, the way the indicators and pedals are used, certain driver control actions, and various external influences, such as a side wind or uneven road surface. If the system detects encroaching fatigue, it will give a warning sound and symbol in the instrument cluster.

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