Mercedes Shows Electronic Nannies Reduce Driving Pleasure
Leave it to the Germans to try to quantify driving pleasure. Gizmag tells of a project underway at Mercedes Benz to analyze the emotions felt by people as they drive and interact with their cars. Using a computer that interprets facial expressions as emotional responses, they videotaped eight different drivers as they piloted a new C-Class and a 1983 190E through a number of test courses. Preliminary statements made by participants indicated they thought vehicle control and safety– which the C-Class has in spades over the 190E thanks to modern electronics– were the main factors contributing to driving pleasure. However, when researchers analyzed the videos, they found something different: some participants "enjoyed driving the older car, smiling when the rear end drifted slightly on tight bends of the handling course." Mercedes plans to use the data gained through this research not only to make their cars safer, but "also develop cars with a greater level of agility and dynamism to enhance driver enjoyment." They could start by [s]killing[/s] firing all their lawyers, and then returning full control of their cars' various electronic systems to the driver.