Mercedes-Benz S400 Hybrid-based ESF 2009 Showcases Future Safety Innovations

Tom Ludwick
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It's no secret that Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in vehicle safety. To celebrate several anniversaries in the safety field and at the same time demonstrate some of its new and upcoming safety innovations, the S400 Hybrid-based ESF 2009 was created.

The Mercedes ESF 2009 experimental safety vehicle clearly illustrates the company's intention to lead the safety field in the future. It features 13 safety innovations, most of which are fully functioning in demonstration mode.

One of the most interesting features is a new PRE-SAFE Structure. The structure has collapsed metal beams that remain in a folded state until they are called into action. When a collision appears imminent, a gas generator builds up an internal pressure of between 145 and 290 psi, causing the metal sections to unfold to provide a significant amount of additional protection.

Another seemingly far-out innovation is an air bag on the outside of the vehicle called a braking bag. It functions as an auxiliary brake that is deployed shortly before a crash. A sensor system is used to detect if an impact is unavoidable. If so, the braking bag mounted underneath the vehicle is activated. It makes contact with the road surface and provides additional friction to slow the vehicle down. It also raises the vehicle upwards by up to8 centimeters, which counteracts the dive effect caused by hard braking and improves geometrical compatibility with the other vehicle in an accident.

The ESF 2009 also highlights a technology called Interactive Vehicle Communication. Using this technology, the ESF 2009 is capable of communicating directly with other vehicles or relay stations. This communication enables the vehicle to send and receive warnings of bad weather or obstacles in the road.

Passengers in the ESF 2009 are further protected by an innovation called PRE-SAFE Pulse. This technology reduces the forces acting on the torsos of occupants during a lateral collision by moving them toward the center of the vehicle by up to 5 centimeters as a precaution. It does this by inflating the air chambers in the side bolsters of the seats.

These are just a handful of the futuristic safety systems that could be coming to a Mercedes near you in the next couple years. The ESF 2009 also packs plenty of other intelligent safety features, like partial main beam headlights, Size Adaptive Airbags, and a Hybrid Battery Shield. It will make its public debut at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) Conference in Stuttgart on June 15.

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