Tony O'Kane | May 18, 2012

Mercedes-Benz has long championed its fatigue-sensing driving aids designed to warn drivers when they're about to nod off.

But now the German automaker is developing a system designed to help them fall asleep.

With fatigue known to be a major cause of road fatalities, Mercedes' new Active Comfort system utilises sleep-inducing stimuli to send drivers quickly to sleep when they pull over for a powernap.

The theory is that by assisting drivers to fall asleep quicker, the Active Comfort system will leave them more refreshed and alert when they wake.

Data gathered from Benz's TopFitTruck study will be used to develop the Active Comfort system for passenger cars, as well as long-haul commercial vehicles. With drowsy drivers found to drive less efficiently than alert drivers, Mercedes also claims that the Active Comfort system will have an indirect effect on fuel economy

"Our investigations have revealed that tired truckers consume around one litre of diesel per 100 kilometres more than their counterparts who sleep well," said Siegfried Rothe, Head of Condition Enhancement, Group Research at Daimler.

The Active Comfort system utilises cabin lighting, soothing music, massaging seats and even subtle smells to more quickly lull occupants into a deep sleep.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Active Comfort system is designed to also employ noise suppression technology, better-flowing cabin ventilation and scents like menthol to increase driver alertness and delay the onset of fatigue.

There's no indication of when Mercedes will debut its Active Comfort system in a series production vehicle - whether a freight-hauling truck or a family sedan.

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