Auto-swerve Merc 'in five years'

* Steers around pedestrians * Within five years * Different from Volvo system...

Auto-swerve Merc 'in five years'

Mercedes-Benz is working on a new safety system than can automatically steer around pedestrians to avoid accidents.

Ulrich Mellinghoff, head of safety development at Mercedes, says it's likely to appear within the next five years.

Talking to What Car? at the Detroit motor ahow, Mellinghoff told us that in 80% of accidents with people, just 20% of a car's frontal area hits the pedestrian.

This means it would take only 40-50cm of movement for a Mercedes to automatically swerve around a pedestrian that had been detected by the car.

Driver should react first
Mellinghoff says motorists must always accept ultimate responsibility for safety, so there will be warnings to try and encourage the driver to react first, like in other Mercedes systems.

Mercedes' pedestrian crash prevention system differs from Volvo's CitySafe, which brakes to avoid a collision.

It will add to the package of systems that are already available including the drowsiness monitor recently introduced on the E-Class and planned to appear in every Mercedes.

Mercedes safety record
Although Mellinghoff thinks it may be impossible to eliminate all accidents - an ambitious goal Volvo has set - he says that it has recently become difficult to find real-world accidents involving Mercedes drivers that have been killed or seriously injured.

Mercedes has been visiting accidents for decades, like Volvo, but Mellinghoff says they haven't found a crash in which a Mercedes driver was seriously injured or killed in the past two years.