To wrap up our visit to its R&D lab in Palo Alto, Mercedes-Benz's Gordon Peredo demonstrated "Smart Stop," a wireless safety system that stops cars automatically when the driver fails to heed a red light.The technology isn't headed to production vehicles in the immediate future. Having it work in the real world depends on the existence of smart intersections -- which means cooperation from Congress, regional/local governments and the rest of the industry. Moreover, upgrading America's intersections won't come cheap.
Disclosure: Mercedes-Benz is a sponsor of BBG. Last week, we drove the new E-Class and were the first bloggers or journalists to get a look inside their North American R&D lab. Mercedes-Benz has no editorial involvement in the items we post about the visit .
Apart from a few trial installations, it could be ten years or more before the technology is standardized and available nationwide. When implemented, it won't just be about safety: cars that include the wireless transceivers can conduct a "conversation" with one other to share realtime local traffic data, as well as to warn the driver if he or she is accelerating into a stop light.
Current-gen driver-assisting systems include lane assist, to warn of dangerous drifting; a proximity detector that keeps an eye on blind spots; and steering-wheel sensors able to detect hand movement characteristic of sleepy drivers.
Those who prefer to go without can turn off "assistance," and Mercedes-Benz says this'll remain true in future generations of it cars. "Safety" features like the Smart Stop systems -- which already brake automatically to prevent imminent rear-end collisions -- are always on.
More info is at Mercedes-Benz's website.