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Mercedes shows the future of crash protection

By Mark Nichol

Motor Industry

09 June 2009 10:00

I hear Mercedes has also invented the world’s first external airbag

That’s right, Mercedes has successfully deployed the first external airbag (that we’ve heard of, anyway) - but perhaps not for the purpose you’re thinking. The Braking Bag is actually an emergency frictional braking tool, positioned at the front axle and endowing the driver with a mighty 2g of braking force when, you’ve guessed it, Pre-Safe detects an imminent smash and unleashes it.

ESF 2009 also sees the debut of front airbags that detect the size, weight and seating position of occupants and unfurl to a volume based exclusively on those parameters, optimising their effectiveness.

Mercedes admits most of these safety breakthroughs are currently at the prototype stage and will prove expensive to gestate, but the maker also reckons it’s likely some of them - like the Belt Bag - will filter into production models within the next couple of years.