Latest Mercedes-Benz autonomous driving assistant falls short of expectations, finds Strategy Analytics

Derek Viita

A recent user experience evaluation from the In-vehicle UX (IVX) group at Strategy Analytics has assessed Mercedes-Benz’s Semi-Autonomous Driving Assistant in a 2018 S-Class Sedan. On completion, Strategy Analytics found that this iteration shows improvements in control location, but repeats issues with small visual icons and a lack of audible or tactile feedback, leading to moderate IVX scores for usability. System-initiated emergency stops during escalated takeover warnings also have troubling safety implications.

Click here for report.

Key report findings include:

  • In a notable positive design change, primary ACC controls are now located on the steering wheel rather than buried on a stalk control.
  • Visual assets are entirely co-located at the bottom of the instrument cluster, and one notable icon is slightly larger.

However, several critical human factors issues remain:

  • Proper function requires that steering assist and lane-keeping modes remain active. Hiding these controls on a console behind the steering wheel is not conducive to discovery or usability of either.
  • No audible or tactile feedback is provided when an operator hands off to the vehicle, or during initial takeover warnings.
Chris Schreiner

Derek Viita, report author and senior analyst commented, “Because a lack of consumer trust is one of the biggest roadblocks to a fully autonomous ecosystem, automakers such as Daimler have an enviable position. Semi-autonomous features such as Mercedes Benz’s advanced driving assistants could serve as a ’gateway’ to showcase Daimler’s ability to create safe and enjoyable assisted-driving (or non-driving) experiences.

However, it is currently a wasted opportunity due to a poor holistic understanding of the semi-autonomous use case, particularly with respect to human-machine interface (HMI) design.”

Added Chris Schreiner, director, Syndicated Research UXIP: “As interest in autonomous driving features has returned to an upward trend, the next few model years and semi-autonomous iterations will be critical in determining whether automakers are truly gaining consumer trust.”

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