Assisting the Inattentive
Last night I clicked on a news video on the bbc, before a story, there was an ad for Mercedes Benz that got my attention. I’ve searched all over to find it and post it here, but have been unsuccessful. I did transcribe it. It consists of brief shots of the face of a driver telling a story with transitions to related roadway footage.
driver #1: “I was drifting into the other lane…
driver #2: “It got my attention, telling me that I wasn’t paying attention…
driver #3: I had no idea the guy in front of me had stopped short, but my car did…
driver #2: my Mercedes did.
Then the narrator comes on and talks about the car’s Attention-Assist system. I didn’t transcribe that part. But I did some googling.
I found this video:
And some articles:
I tried wandering out of my lane, and that triggered a system — available now on Benz cars — that jiggles the wheel to shake you awake. It’s effective. Then I tried getting all jerky in my driving movements, and that triggers a sensor that decides you’re too sleepy to drive: An image of a coffee cup appears, and a gentle suggestion to pull over and take a catnap.
I had great fun with a Volvo in Gothenburg years ago driving into an inflatable dummy of a car. A sensor in the wagon recognized the obstacle and slowed the car down: Even though we still hit the dummy, we hit it at about 30 percent of the speed we’d have done otherwise. Mercedes is working with a similar system, which recognizes objects 200 feet away and slows you down even if your foot is pressing the accelerator.
For most of the history of auto manufacturing, carmakers’ efforts in the area of safety have been devoted to developing “passive” safety features — seat belts, air bags, building a stronger frame for the cabin, side-impact door beams, etc. All those things help you stay safe once you are involved in an accident.
But just as advanced technology has changed almost every other industry, so too has it changed the automotive industry, leading to the design of more “active” safety features.
It started with now-common features like anti-lock brakes (ABS) and electronic stability control systems (ESC). But in recent years, engineers have taken safety technology to a new level. And these days, they spend more time and money researching and developing “crash avoidance” features and technologies. These computerized systems, instead of protecting you if a crash occurs, help you avoid accidents in the first place.
Set for arrival in 2009, Ford has developed a new radar-based active collision avoidance system that combines auditory warnings with assisted braking to help reduce the incidence and severity of accidents. By pre-charging the brake system and engaging an electronic brake assist system, Ford hopes the new Brake Support feature will help more drivers to avoid rear-end accidents.
Ford is launching the new Collision Warning with Brake Support system across several vehicles in its lineup. Also featured as active safety devices will be the new for 2008 adaptive cruise control and Blind Spot Information System with Cross Traffic Alert, which will be new for 2009 alongside the new collision warning system. Also demonstrated recently was the Ford Smart Intersection, which allows cars and intersections to communicate key information. The package of features, taken together, is a multi-faceted attack on driver inattention.
Does simply paying attention while driving an automobile exceed human capability?
What do you think about this technology?