NEW YORK – A new Mercedes-Benz traffic-signal recognition system is designed to eliminate accidents caused by drivers running red lights.

But Sascha Simon, manager-advanced product planning for Mercedes-Benz USA, says equipping production cars with such a system must await upgraded roadway infrastructures that would allow traffic signals to communicate with cars – something that may be more than a decade away.

Mercedes demonstrates the system on a closed street in front of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center here as part of its participation in the Intelligent Transportation Systems exhibition.

The device, developed at the Mercedes research facility in Palo Alto, CA, is tied into the vehicle-navigation unit’s GPS.

When the car is approaching an intersection, it receives a signal on the status of the signal light. If the driver fails to slow for a red light, audible and visual warnings alert the driver to stop. Failure to do so triggers the car’s automatic emergency braking.

The automatic braking occurs only if the onboard sensor and traffic signal’s dedicated short-range communication system concur the light is red, says Ralf Herrtwich, director of Mercedes Infotainment and Telematics Group.

Once automatic braking is initiated, the vehicle “thinks” that a crash is inevitable and deploys the Mercedes pre-safe system. This includes pre-tensioning the seatbelts and automatically rolling up the windows until they are almost closed. The latter action is designed to prevent drivers and passengers from flailing their arms outside of the car.

Mercedes isn’t the only one with an automatic braking system linked to traffic lights. Such a feature is part of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd.’s All-Around Collision-Free system, also unveiled at the ITS congress here.

Meanwhile, Mercedes also provides demonstrations of its Mindlab test that evaluates driver stress with brainwave measurements. The demonstrations, given in the lobby of the convention center, require electrodes to be attached to the heads of drivers to read their brainwaves.

A 6D-Vision system that uses two cameras to simulate the way human eyes work reveals every object around a vehicle and assesses the risk of potential collisions.

Mercedes scientists can interpret the brainwaves of test subjects to determine how attentive they are to potential dangerous obstacles and also whether the driver is suffering from too much stress or fatigue. Eventually the scientists hope to use the data to eliminate accidents or reduce their severity.