In an attempt to make their vehicles safer, Mercedes-Benz is considering a number of new safety options including external air bags. Detroit Free Press Auto Critic Mark Phelan takes a look at some of the safety options that may one day be featured on Mercedes-Benz vehicles.
Below is the article as it appeared in the Detroit Free Press website.
Mercedes Playing with External Airbags
Posted: March 25, 2010
By MARK PHELAN
FREE PRESS AUTO CRITIC
You knew it would come to this. To make cars safer, Mercedes-Benz is experimenting with air bags on the outside.
Not to turn the car into a massive cushion and protect pedestrians, as you might guess, but to be deployed beneath the car as a sort of anchor to slow the car when a collision is inevitable.
The bag inflates below the car, lifting the vehicle slightly and pushing a rubber and steel plate against the road. The result is up to 2G deceleration, enough to greatly reduce the force of impact. The bag also lifts the front end as much as 3 inches. This offsets the nose’s tendency to dip under heavy braking and makes it more likely the car’s bumper will strike the other car’s bumper.
It’s just one of many proposed safety features in Mercedes’ new ESF 2009 engineering car. Others include:
Inflatable seat cushions to push passengers inboard, where they will be safer in a crash.
Smart headlights that detect oncoming traffic and redirect the high beams so they don’t blind other drivers, but continue to shine maximum light on the road.
Reflective tire sidewalls to make the car visible to cross traffic at night.
To read this article on the Detroit Free Press website, visit http://www.freep.com/article/20100325/COL14/3250444/Mercedes-playing-with-external-airbags.