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by George Skentzos

Mercedes-Benz has long been a pioneer of innovative safety features which are traditionally first introduced in the flagship S-Class before finding their way into the mainstream.

Now the brand has unveiled the 2009 ESF Experimental Safety Vehicle – the first of its kind to be built by Mercedes-Benz since 1974 – which is packed with the latest in passenger protection.

Based on the Mercedes S 400 Hybrid, the ESF features more than a dozen new technologies which in some cases may seem rather absurd such as the new “Braking Bag”.

“Safety is a central element of the Mercedes-Benz brand. In this respect we have been setting the pace in the market for almost 70 years for the benefit of our customers and for road users in general. The ESF 2009 shows that we still have plenty of ideas and the absolute will to lead the automobile industry in this field even in future”, says Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of Daimler AG and CEO of Mercedes-Benz Cars.

ESF

Among the highlights of the ESF 2009 is the PRE-SAFE Structure which uses inflatable metal structures to save weight and increase the stability of structural components in the event of a collision.

Another innovation is the Interactive Vehicle Communication system which is able to communicate directly with other vehicles using wireless technologies, sending or receiving information such as weather conditions or obstacles in the road.

ESF

A new PRE-SAFE Pulse feature is able to reduce forces acting on the body during lateral collisions by up to a third by moving passengers 50mm toward the centre of the vehicle using air chambers in the side bolsters of the seat backrests.

Extending the functionality of the infrared camera of Night View Assist PLUS, the new Spotlight lighting function uses a partial LED main beam to illuminate potential hazards on the road such as animals which would otherwise lie beyond the normal area covered by the main beam.

ESF

Finally, the Braking Bag deploys under the vehicle as an auxiliary brake when an impact is unavoidable, stabilising the car on the road surface with a friction coating and helping to decelerate the vehicle before the impact occurs.

The ESF 2009 was developed and built completely in the Mercedes-Benz test vehicle workshops in Sindelfingen, continuing a longstanding tradition of revolutionary ideas from Mercedes such as ABS or the airbag which first entered series production at Mercedes-Benz.




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