They are considering the undisputed direction towards electric mobility and the increasingly closer horizon of autonomous driving. Mercedes-Benz wants to rethink the security technologies inside the vehicles so that they are not only more friendly when protecting the occupants, but also so that the other actors of the tracks can intuitively recognize, at a certain moment, what the car or its driver intends to do.
To materialize all its advances on this future vision of security, the new Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF) 2019 is presented at the Frankfurt auto show. A prototype that serves as a showcase to expose a dozen innovations that are investigating and working Manufacturer’s safety experts.
The ESF 2019, which developed on the platform of the new Mercedes-Benz GLE, is capable of driving completely autonomously in particular situations and is managed through a plug-in hybrid system. While this model debuted a couple of months ago in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the Frankfurt runway offers the possibility that the public knows it for the first time.
“The great advantage of automated driving functions is that, in the future, fewer accidents will occur due to driver error. However, fully autonomous and driverless vehicles will also face physical limits. For example, for many years, there will be mixed traffic that will involve the coexistence of autonomous models and others that are not, ”says Rodolfo Schöneburg, Head of the Center for Vehicle Safety, Durability and Protection against Corrosion in Mercedes-Benz Cars.
The creation of these prototypes for the investigation of security resources is not new; in fact, more than 30 units built between 1971 and 1975, which participated in crash tests to ensure that the high safety standards that the brand has always promoted met. However, the direct predecessor of the ESF 2019 is the ESF 2009, a research vehicle that debuted at the XXI ESV (Enhanced Vehicle Safety) conference in Stuttgart, a decade ago.
The importance of these prototypes is verified when considering that numerous innovations present in the ESF 2009 are currently part of the list of accessories of different models. Such as the belt airbag ( belt bag ), the Pre-Safe Impulse Side (which inflates the side seat backrest when there is a crash on that side), or the Active High Beam Assist Plus.
These are some of the main innovations present in the Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019:
Integral driver safety
When the ESF 2019 travels in fully autonomous mode, the steering wheel, and the pedals are retracted to reduce the risk of injury during a crash. The greater interior flexibility requires new ideas for restraint systems, such as an integrated seat belt and airbags with alternative installation spaces; for example, that of the driver accommodate it on the board or include it in the side reinforcements of the seatbacks. The idea is that after activation, the driver’s airbag expands on the top of the steering wheel, previously retracted.
Cooperative communication with the environment
For all road users to have confidence with autonomous vehicles, they must be able to instantly and intuitively recognize what they intend to do. In that aspect, the prototype sensors not only monitor traffic but also consider and warn other road users. The prototype also equips Digital Light 9140 led bulb headlights, whose HD-quality dipped beam does not dazzle and has a resolution of more than two million pixels.
E l child seat Pre-Safe Child has a belt which is tensioned preventively before a collision, while the protective elements deployed against side impacts. This result not only fixes the child with greater firmness and precision in the seat but also reduces the loads that act on the child.
Another novelty is the monitoring in the installation of the child seat; In this case, eight corresponding 3D icons and animations on the multimedia screen will indicate that the process is correct.
Warning against road risks
The 2019 ESF has a small robot that automatically emerges from the rear of the vehicle after an incident and is located at a safe distance to warn other drivers. The idea of displaying a warning sign on the roof or using the rear window as an information screen also worked on.
Resources that combine safety and comfort
An innovative airbag for the rear passengers is developed, which uses a new concept to be placed, inflated, and deployed. In this case, there is a tubular structure, and the belt buckle would have lighting, USB port, and even heating; One of the objectives is to motivate the use of such devices among the occupants.
Optimization of active security
The functions of the Active Brake Assist extended, which provides additional protection, especially in potentially dangerous traffic situations with vulnerable users. Similarly, when turning, the system now also detects pedestrians and cyclists that circulate parallel to the vehicle; If an imminent collision with vulnerable users (pedestrians, cyclists, etc.) is determined, the driver receives a visual and auditory warning. Similarly, the protection of these actors on the road is much more active, due to the diligent management of the 360 ° protection system and autonomous braking.