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Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009 Showcases Safety Innovations

June 17, 2009

STUTTGART, GERMANY --- The Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009, the first experimental safety vehicle to be built by the automaker since 1974, premiered June 15 at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) Conference in Stuttgart, Germany. 

The ESF 2009 was developed and built completely in the test vehicle workshops in Sindelfingen. This safety research vehicle based on the Mercedes S 400 HYBRID features more than a dozen safety innovations, most of which are fully functioning in demonstration mode. 

"With the ESF 2009, we have chosen this particular time to clearly demonstrate the innovative strength of Daimler. Anybody examining the ESF 2009 in detail will recognize that more safety and improved energy efficiency are not necessarily a contradiction in terms," said Dr. Thomas Weber, the member of the Daimler executive board responsible for corporate research and development at Mercedes-Benz Cars.

The ESF 2009 showcases these safety advances:

PRE-SAFE Structure: The inflatable metal structures save weight or increase the stability of structural components. When at rest, the metal section is in a folded state to save space. If its protective effect is required, a gas generator builds up an internal pressure of 10 to 20 bars within fractions of a second, causing the section to unfold for significantly more stability.

Braking Bag: This auxiliary brake, accommodated in the vehicle floor, is a new type of PRE-SAFE component. If the sensor system concludes that an impact is unavoidable, the Braking Bag is deployed shortly before the crash and stabilizes the car on the road surface by means of a friction coating. The vehicle's vertical acceleration increases the friction, and helps to decelerate the vehicle before the impact occurs.

Interactive Vehicle Communication: The ESF 2009 is able to communicate directly with other vehicles, or via relay stations. Using "ad hoc" networks and WLAN radio technology, it can receive and transmit warnings of bad weather or obstacles in the road.

PRE-SAFE Pulse: This further development of PRE-SAFE is able to reduce the forces acting on the torsos of the occupants during a lateral collision by around one-third. It does this by moving them towards the center of the vehicle by up to 50 millimeters as a precautionary measure. As an active restraint system, it uses the air chambers in the side bolsters of the seat backrests.

Spotlight lighting function: This partial LED main beam specifically illuminates potential hazards. If the infrared camera of Night View Assist PLUS detects deer at the roadside or pedestrians on the road, for example, these can be briefly illuminated beyond the normal area covered by the main beams, as if by a spotlight.

Mercedes-Benz also presented a PRE-SAFE Demonstrator at the 21st ESV Conference. For the first time this simulator uses a linear motor for this purpose, in order to accelerate the vehicle cabin to up to 16 km/h within a distance of four meters before the impact occurs. The linear drive system, similar to that used by the Transrapid train, is freely programmable and also works in the opposite direction. This enables various acceleration profiles and also a rear-end collision to be demonstrated. The special feature of this system is that the "vehicle occupants" experience the effect of the PRE-SAFE functions live, including belt pretensioning, NECK-PRO and the inflatable side bolsters of the seats.

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