Emergency Assist in cars isn’t new, but for Audi the way their cars deal with a sleepy or unresponsive driver changed with the launch of the technology powerhouse, the Audi A8. Every car since comes with the same philosophy for waking the driver and bringing the car to a complete stop.
It might seem like common sense for all car manufacturers to deal with Emergency Assistance in the same way, but actually, there is no legislation on what a car should do when offering this assistance. So it seems automakers are dealing with it differently, which is why I thought it was worth documenting all the different ways a car can safely deal with an emergency. Last year in a Mercedes after a series of warnings the car just decided that it had told me enough at 50kph to take control and disabled the assisted driving function and drove the car off the road. Now, I get that I’m supposed to be ready to take control, but the car should have come to a stop. It was enough of a scare that now I check to see how manufacturers try to get me to take control, should I dose off.
If you’re too lazy to watch my amazing video, after 30sec of taking my hands off the wheel the car makes a sound (a noticeable sound, but not a resounding ring that would wake me from my slumber. It’s worth watching the video since you can barely hear the sound of me commenting on what’s happening in the car. A screen flashes up just before the sound asking me to take control of the car. Approximately 15-20 seconds later the car “bings” again, but this time is lightly an rapidly taps on the brakes to try to shake me awake. As I don’t take the wheel the car continues to decelerate and tightens my seatbelt quite aggressively and the car comes to a smooth stop. The interior lights come on, the doors unlock and (to my surprise) the car calls an emergency number and someone offers me assistance.
What’s interesting about this approach is that not all manufacturers think that it’s a good idea to tap on the brakes. Mercedes believes that this is potentially dangerous as the car has no idea what’s going on around it. I’d argue that me being asleep at the wheel and no one in control of the car is more dangerous than letting the car try to help me.
What do you guys think? I’ll be testing the A-Class later this month to see if alongside their new MBUX infotainment system Mercedes has reconsidered their stance. What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments!