PRE-SAFE, Curtain Air bags, Stability Control, Tele Aid
Mercedes-Benz, the company that invented many of the significant automotive safety features in widespread use today, now ushers in the next era in safety engineering. PRE-SAFE – standard equipment on every S-Class sedan since model year 2003 – can actually configure the seats, seat belts and even the sunroof to best protect occupants in the event of an unavoidable impact.
PRE-SAFE – which has won numerous industry awards in North America and abroad as a forward-thinking safety concept – actually conditions occupants before a crash occurs. Until now, all safety systems are activated upon impact. The PRE-SAFE system can recognize an impending accident through certain driving manoeuvres – oversteer, understeer, or emergency braking – and capitalize on those precious moments in time before an impact occurs. If the front passenger is in an unfavourable position for impact, the seat is adjusted to an optimum safety position with the backrest raised, the seat bottom lowered and moved rearwards. When equipped with individual rear seats, the seat cushions of these positions are also readjusted. Additional electric seat-belt tensioners are activated, slowly retracting to better secure the passenger. Additionally, if the sensors detect skidding, the sunroof is automatically closed. All PRE-SAFE features are an add-on to existing safety systems and are fully reversible. PRE-SAFE will be a harbinger of safety technology to come with even more specific functions in the near future.
Tele Aid: Help Is Just a Button Away
Having debuted in 1999 – another Mercedes first – Tele Aid provides both convenience and emergency services at the touch of a button through a special cellular connection. The Mercedes Tele Aid telematics system offers an array of safety and security features. The Mercedes Tele Aid telematics system, standard on the S-Class, E-Class, CL-Class, SL-Class and G-Class and optional on all other models, provides both safety and convenience features. If a collision deploys any air bag or sea-belt tensioning device activates, the system automatically establishes contact with a central response centre where specialists trained in emergency response relay pertinent information to emergency responders. If voice contact is not established (e.g., the driver is unable to respond), the specialist automatically summons local police, fire or emergency services and guides them to the vehicle’s location. The on-board transmitter is crash-protected and has access to redundant antennas.
The system also transmits crucial information including the precise location of the vehicle (through GPS satellite tracking), the car model and colour (to help emergency responders locate it quickly). This feature can also be manually triggered by pressing the on-board “SOS” button in the overhead console. Tele Aid eliminates the need to dial a phone number, use a cellular access code, juggle a handset or locate street names during an emergency. Tele Aid response specialists also can notify the vehicle owner’s emergency contacts, an often invaluable service when a driver is unable to respond or is rushed to an emergency room.
Remote door unlocking and alarm notification is also folded into Tele Aid. Another benefit of Tele Aid is vehicle theft recovery, which can help authorities locate the car once the owner reports it stolen.
Tele Aid includes two other features for non-emergency use. One button marked with the symbol of a wrench puts the client in contact with Mercedes-Benz Roadside Assistance. Another button marked with the letter “i” connects users to a Mercedes-Benz Customer Service Representative who can answer feature questions.
Side Curtain Air bags
Working in conjunction with existing side air bags (themselves first introduced on Mercedes E-Class and SL models in model year 1996), the side curtain air bag is a system that can prevent both front and rear occupants’ heads from impacting the side window or roof pillars in a severe side crash. In addition, the gas-filled cushion can block glass splinters or other objects, which could cause injury in a side impact or rollover. About 180 cm long, 35 cm high, and roughly 5 cm thick, each curtain bag deploys from the ceiling from directly above the side windows in about 25 milliseconds and extends across the front and rear windows. There is a curtain air bag on each side of the car.
Side Air bags Work in Conjunction with Curtain Side Air bags
The curtain side air bag is the latest in a long line of safety innovation from Mercedes-Benz. Starting with the 1998 lineup, Mercedes made side air bags standard on every model. The side air bags work as part of the Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) to reduce the possibility of injury in certain direct side impacts, or certain offset-frontal impacts. Rear side air bags are standard on all sedans, wagons, coupes, the M-Class SUV and the four-seater CLK-Class Cabriolets.
Brake Assist across the Board
In the past few years, the company has introduced other significant safety advances. One of these safety advances is Brake Assist, which is standard equipment on every Mercedes-Benz. Brake Assist senses emergency braking situations by monitoring the speed at which the brake pedal is pushed and automatically applies full braking force.
Safety as a Guiding Philosophy
Since the 1930s, when it introduced independent suspension and self-adjusting brakes, Mercedes-Benz has implemented innovative engineering and features that greatly enhance automotive safety. Mercedes-Benz vehicles incorporate extensive active and passive safety features. Active features that help the driver avoid mishaps include ABS anti-lock brakes, traction control, and Electronic Stability Program (ESP) as well as responsive suspension and steering. Passive features that limit injury if an accident occurs include full front air bags, side air bags, side curtain air bags, energy-absorbing car body design, strong seat structures, interior padding, seatbelts, seat-belt tensioners and belt force limiters.
Four key safety features widely used today trace their roots to Mercedes-Benz safety research:
• The energy-absorbing car body – Patented in 1951, the “crumple zone” design combines a rigidly constructed passenger compartment, or cell, with energy absorbing front and rear body structures.
• ABS anti-lock brakes – Now available in almost every car line offered in North America, an anti-lock braking system was first offered by Mercedes in 1978. An acronym trademarked by Mercedes in 1972 which translated “anti-blocking system,” ABS preserves directional stability and steering during emergency braking and has been standard on all Canadian Mercedes-Benz models since the 1989 model year.
• Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) – Mercedes-Benz coined the term Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) for the group of features that include front air bags, knee bolsters and front three-point seatbelts with Emergency Tensioning Devices (and starting in 1998, side air bags throughout the line). While ETDs remove seat-belt slack just as the air bags begin to deploy, the system also incorporates belt force limiters which relax the belts as restraining forces build on the chest later in the collision sequence. Mercedes has done pioneering work developing air bags and emphasizing that air bags are most effective when used as part of an overall safety system.
• Traction control – Mercedes was the first carmaker to introduce a form of traction control, called Automatic Locking Differential (ASD) in 1986. Since then, the company has advanced the technology with today’s full-range ASR traction control. ASR reduces the throttle electronically if necessary to restore traction, and then applies one of the rear brakes momentarily if relaxing the throttle is not sufficient. ASR traction control is now standard on all passenger cars, while the M-Class and G-Class SUVs as well as C-Class, E-Class, and S-Class 4MATIC all-wheel-drive models employ an electronic four-wheel traction control system.
Stability Control across the Board
Introduced in 1995 and standard on every model, Mercedes’ Electronic Stability Program (ESP) works invisibly to help the driver maintain control in hazardous driving conditions. This system uses sensors to constantly monitor individual wheel speed, steering angle (the driver’s desired direction) and lateral acceleration (actual cornering force), as well as an advanced yaw sensor derived from aircraft technology. From these inputs, ESP can determine if a car is going in the direction the driver intends. Should the car become unstable and begin to experience an incipient slide or spin, ESP temporarily applies brake pressure at one or more wheels– something no driver can do – to restore the driver’s intended path.
Other Passive Safety Features
Mercedes-Benz engineers have made dramatic advances in passive safety systems, including the first standard “occupant friendly” interior in 1959, incorporating energy-absorbing features like a padded steering wheel hub, sun visors, door trim, arm rests, a yielding instrument panel and recessed door handles.
The Safety Cell
A rigid passenger cell and Mercedes-patented “crumple zones” help absorb impact before it reaches passengers. The front and rear structures of the body have been designed to collapse at a pre-determined rate upon impact. Front longitudinal and cross members also aid in dissipating energy, especially in offset collisions, and the 1998 SLK introduced a refinement of this design concept called ellipsoid bulkhead. Today, new combinations of reinforcement members at the bulkhead are in use.
Air bag Design Pioneer
Mercedes was the first carmaker to make a driver’s side air bag standard equipment as part of its restraint system; all Mercedes models today also have a standard front passenger air bag and front side air bags, which help protect occupants during a side impact. Dedicated sensors determine the severity of the side impact, and, within milliseconds, trigger the respective side air bag. The bags are fully inflated about 15 milliseconds later. This compares to the front air bags, which need about 30-45 milliseconds to inflate.
Emergency tensioning devices for the seat belts, which reduce slack in the belts to increase their effectiveness in a collision, have been standard equipment on Mercedes cars since 1984, and reel-integrated belt force limiters made their debut on the 1996 E-Class and are featured on all 2004 Mercedes models.
Other key features include a fuel tank that is mounted ahead of the trunk, well away from the rear of the car, as well as a hood, front fenders and fold-flat side mirrors which are even specially designed to minimize injuries to pedestrians or cyclists who may be struck.
Summary of the Most Significant Mercedes-Benz Safety Innovations
1938 – self-adjusting brakes
1939 – study of safety elements in prototype safety vehicles
1951 – development of the safety car body with rigid passenger cell and front and rear crumple
1959 – first test car built
1959 – first frontal crash test
1959 – “occupant-friendly” interior
1960 – first rollover test
1961 – servo-assisted disc brakes
1967 – first energy-absorbing steering wheel and telescoping column
1969 – systematic investigation and analysis of traffic accidents (in Germany) involving
1971 – fuel tank over rear axle and separated from passengers by steel panel
1971 – ribbed “anti-soil” tail lamps
1973 – front three-point seatbelts standard (optional since 1968)
1978 – electronic anti-lock brake system (ABS)
1979 – rear outboard three-point seatbelts standard (optional since 1974)
1980 – first offset crash car design
1981 – front shoulder belt height adjustment
1983 – Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) in North America
1984 – emergency tensioning retractors to reduce slack from front passenger seatbelt in certain
1985 – emergency tensioning retractors to reduce slack from front driver seatbelt in certain
1986 – first headlamp wiper/washers for North American models
1988 – full front air bag system offered in North America
1989 – first automatic deploying rollover bar (model year 1990 SL coupe/roadsters)
1989 – first seatbelts integrated into seats (model year 1990 SL coupe/roadsters)
1992 – G-force brake proportioning system (model year 1993 S-Class)
1994 – full-front air bags standard on all Mercedes models in North America
1995 – Electronic Stability Program (ESP)
1996 – side air bags for driver and front passenger
1997 – BabySmart child seat detection system (model year 1998 SLK roadster)
1997 – Brake Assist system
1998 – side curtain air bags (model year 1999 E-Class sedans)
1999 – dual stage “smart” front passenger air bag, deploys in partial or full force, dependent on
impact severity (model year 2000 S-Class)
1999 – Tele Aid emergency calling system (model year 2000 S-Class)
2000 – dual Stage “smart” front driver and passenger air bag, deploys in partial or full force, dependent on impact severity (model year 2001 C-Class)
2002 – electronic braking system (model year 2003 SL coupe/roadster, model year 2003 E-
2002 – PRE-SAFE system that conditions interior to best protect occupants for an unavoidable impact (model year 2003 S-Class)
About Mercedes-Benz Canada
Mercedes-Benz Canada is responsible for the sales, marketing and service of Mercedes-Benz cars and light trucks in Canada. Headquartered in Toronto, Ontario, Mercedes-Benz Canada employs approximately 830 people in 22 locations across Canada. Through a nationwide network of 17 Mercedes-Benz owned retail operations and 39 authorized dealerships, Mercedes-Benz Canada sold 14,520 vehicles during 2002, representing a 22.2% increase over 2001, setting the highest sales volume in its history.
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