Welcome to the world of innovation as Mercedes Benz continues to pioneer top class active and passive safety features in cars. The car maker has just announced on its latest experiment of back seat airbags.
1. History of Mercedes Benz safety airbag development
Mercedes Benz over took General Motors to pioneer the first set of passive safety features in cars.
As early as 1964, Mercedes Benz commenced research on how to develop air bag technology for cars and started performing trials the next year. By 23 October 1971, Daimler-Benz AG patently the first ever air bag technology for cars which came along with the seat belt system and by 1981, Mercedes Benz presented the air bag, seat belt passive safety and occupant restraint system to the world at the Geneva Motor show.
This new technology which was only designed for the driver seat of W 126 model series S-Class cars. However, in 1994, both driver side and passenger side airbag had become standard safety features in all Mercedes Benz cars and models. In fact by 1998, side air bag and window bags for both front and rear seats had already become standard features in all Mercedes Benz models.
By 1998 all Mercedes cars had both side-bags and window-bags
The air bag along with the seat belts has been a real success and has saved countless lives since its introduction in 1981. However, there is still one area of the car that has remained unreached by the air bag system.
Research has shown that in the event of accidents that involved frontal collision, 10 percent of the rear seat passengers suffered neck injuries and that about 12 percent experience head injuries even when they had their seat belts on. This disturbing statistics informed the need for rear air bags. However, the design and full deployment of this technology in cars has been a bit of a nut to crack due to some nutty technicalities involved. Deployment issues arising from mounting point and positional dynamics of the front seats which are supposed to house the air bags, as well as the varied sizes of rear seat passengers offered some engineering challenges.
2. Mercedes-Benz announced rear airbag system
To address remaining problems of current airbag system, Daimler-Benz has announced new safety features at the TecDay ESF 2019 and one of them was they Rear Air Bag safety system. In connection with these innovative systems, the CEO of Daimler AG, Ola Kallenius stated:
"The new ESF 2019 reflects the mobility of the future, and presents a wide variety of innovations which we are currently researching and developing. And I can already say this much: some of the functions are very close to series production."
Speaking further during an interview, Prof Rodolfo Schöneburg who heads Mercedes Benz vehicle Safety, Corrosion Protection and durability unit highlighted the various innovative safety features and mentioned the Rear Air Bags and described the innovative component design as “Ground Breaking”.
The rear air bags system come with cylindrical tubes inflated by compressed gas
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The rear air bags are specially built for rear seat passenger safety, in the event of a severe or considerable frontal collision. These air bags are so designed that they deploy gently when triggered by high intensity impact common during accidents. The rear air bags system come with cylindrical tubes that get inflated with compressed gas when triggered, thus unfolding into two wing-shaped structures.
This wing like structure is then covered by tent-like airbag which is deployed between the two wings. The air bag is made with specially designed and patented valves found on the air bag skin that only permits a one-way flow of air into the air bag while restricting the escape of air from the air bag. The system works rapidly, in that, the smaller volume cylindrical tubes will rapidly deploy the larger volume air bag.
The deployed air bag gets filled up by surrounding air through the special valves in contrast to the front seat air bags that are power inflated by special equipment. The cylindrical tubes are non restrictive and will give way in the event of an impact on it. This results in a very gentle deployment of the air bag, posing very low injury risk to the rear seat passengers.
Mercedes-Benz 11 points of airbag protection
The air bag volume is adequate enough and offers sufficient protection to the passengers, provided the passengers have their seat belts on before the collision occurred. Mercedes Benz believes that this innovative safety feature when combined with seat belts will reduce injuries to the neck and head of a rear seat passenger by 30 percent in the event of a severe frontal collision.
In making the rear air bag work perfectly, Mercedes Benz will deploy a host of sensors and seat design technology that will come with occupant recognition. Thus enabling a better and more efficient rear seat air bag deployment and ensuring overall safety of Mercedes Benz customers.
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