Driver assistance systems, advanced sensing technology including radar and cameras, plus intelligent situational awareness software are all being combined in novel ways to enhance safety. Not the least of those is the idea of the 'auto-swerving' car, something Mercedes-Benz engineers are hard at work developing for launch within the next five years.

The goal is to make a car that effectively thinks for itself, avoiding accidents where possible, adjusting what it must to help avoid hitting a pedestrian when a collision is unavoidable and sensing the environment around it at all times.

Speaking with What Car? at the recent Detroit Auto Show, Mercedes-Benz chief of R&D for safety Ulrich Mellinghoff explained that in 80% of accidents with people, just 20% of a car's frontal area hits the pedestrian. This means that a car swerve just one to two feet off course could help prevent a large majority of vehicle pedestrian impacts.

Mellinghoff was quick to point out that a driver will still have responsibility for safety and that any implemented system would attempt to warn the driver first rather than take over control of the car.

Mercedes-Benz is not alone in its pursuit of the car that can avoid accidents. Volvo's own CitySafe system also attempts to avoid accidents but works by applying the brakes rather than making the car swerve.

[What Car?]