Safety campaigners claim commercial gives the impression the E Class can drive itself.
Road safety campaigners are calling for the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a Mercedes-Benz TV commercial that appears to imply the latest E Class is capable of driving autonomously.
The 2017 E Class is available with a suite of driver assistance systems called Drive Pilot. The package includes cruise control and automated steering that will follow traffic and hold a lane up to speeds of 130 miles-per-hour. But those systems do not amount to full autonomous driving capability.
The commercial, titled ‘The Future’, begins by showing the fully autonomous F015 concept, which is then overtaken by a 2017 E Class. As that happens, the narrator asks: “Is the world truly ready for a vehicle that can drive itself? Ready or not, the future is here.”
The driver of the E Class is then seen to take his hands off the steering wheel, and adjust his ‘tie as the car parallel parks by itself.
Seeking to avoid any confusion about the true capability of the Drive Pilot system, a disclaimer is shown on screen that reads: "Vehicle cannot drive itself, but has automated driving features. The system will remind the driver frequently to keep hands on the steering wheel. Always observe safe driving practices and obey all road traffic regulations.”
Consumer and safety groups have sent a letter to the FTC claiming the E Class does not meet the National Highway Transport Safety Administration’s definition of even a partially self-driving car, yet the commercial could lead a reasonable person to conclude it can operate autonomously.
A spokeswoman for Mercedes responded by pointing out that Drive Pilot is clearly marked as a driver assistance system. The FTC has not commented.
Autonomous driving systems are under particularly close scrutiny at the moment, after the fatal crash of a Tesla running in Autopilot mode.
Source: Automotive News