While at a press event last week, I struck up a conversation with a fellow auto journalist who had just returned from a Mercedes event up in Toronto, where they got to drive the all-new 2014 Mercedes-Benz S550. Since I didn’t get invited to the event, he told me all about the car, and then he told me something that had me stop dead in my tracks. “The car can drive hands-free for up to 10 seconds.”
Umm, say what now?
Steering Assist is a hands-free feature offered on the 2014 S-Class that enables autonomous steering. It uses stereo cameras behind the rearview mirror to follow the cars ahead and autonomously steer through curves. If the car ahead of you pulls off or changes lanes, the system will use mile markers to guide the car. The system will allow hands-free driving only briefly at speeds above 19mph, but will allow for more hands-free time below 19mph.
Given the speed restrictions, it’s clear that the system was developed with traffic jams in mind, but to me it seems like a lawsuit just waiting to happen.
That said, I definitely want to test out Steering Assist for myself. Some of the other S-Class features (like the ridiculous perfume atomizer option), I can do without.
If you’ve got $100K burning a hole in your pocket and are jonesing for a new car, head on down to your local Mercedes dealership this September and check out the new 2014 S-Class.