2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class Evasive Steering Assist Function Explained

Ahead of its official launch, Mercedes-Benz kept saying its new E-Class will be the first car in its segment with quasi-autonomous driving features that would make cruising on the highway a lot easier and safer.
2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class evasive steering assist 1 photo
Photo: Screenshot from YouTube
We've heard similar claims from other manufacturers, but things haven't worked out too well for them in the meantime. The 2017 Mercedes-Benz E-Class has been introduced at the beginning of this year, with actual deliveries starting just a little over a month ago. That means it's still early to judge how efficient these systems are, but let's at least get to know them better.

Besides the usual brake assist, lane keeping assist or smart cruise control with stop and go capabilities, probably the most interesting feature of the new E-Class is its evasive steering assist. In development for quite a few years - I first tested a similar system that seemed ready to go about four years ago during a workshop organized by Bosch - this safety feature does exactly what it says on the box: it goes round a potential hazard.

But since it's a "safety" measure, it does more than that. Once the obstacle has been cleared, it also assists with putting the car back on its original course so you won't avoid a jaywalker only to crash in the group of kids waiting to cross on the sidewalk. It uses all sensors, radars, and cameras available to come up with the best course of action, and then implements it. But there's a catch.

To avoid the eternal problem of choosing the lesser evil in a tricky situation, the system only becomes active after the driver has first given the impulse. The car has a strategy set up, but it's patiently waiting for the driver to react before implementing it. If the driver pulls the steering wheel one way or another, the car will apply the correct level of torque so that it will clear the obstacle, but not by more than it needs to maintaining a safe trajectory throughout the maneuver. If the distance and speed allow it, the car might even come to a complete halt.

Waiting for the driver to make the first move seems like a weird decision, but it's Mercedes-Benz's way of putting itself in a safe position where it leaves the initiative to the human element while the AI only provides assistance. The system is probably perfectly capable of doing everything by itself, it's just the legislative system that isn't yet ready to handle AI initiative.

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About the author: Vlad Mitrache
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"Boy meets car, boy loves car, boy gets journalism degree and starts job writing and editing at a car magazine" - 5/5. (Vlad Mitrache if he was a movie)
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