Watch out! Mercedes ESF Concept previews future safety tech at Frankfurt

Published: 10 September 2019

► Based on a new GLE
► Has a mini robot
► Close to production

Meet the Mercedes-Benz ESF, a GLE stuffed with technology Mercedes says is the future of safety. First shown at the ESV convention in Eindhoven and now on display at the 2019 Frankfurt motor show, the new concept maps out the future of life-saving tech – and aims to face new challenges caused by driverless systems. ESF stands for Experimental Safety Vehicle, we think.

Tell me about the tech, then?

The ESF features many new safety innovations targeted specifically around tech: seat integrated belts have been rethought, while alternative locations for airbags and other kit have had to be thought of, due to the different uses of a driverless car’s interior. Wing airbags at the front of the car will surround front-seat passengers, for example.

Mercedes ESF safety car at Frankfurt motor show 2019 - side view

The car also debuts pre-safe Curve, a system which tugs on your seatbelt if it thinks you’re over-speeding into a bend.

Warning triangles in disguise

Some of the ideas in the ESF border on the sci-fi, too. In the event of an accident or breakdown, the Mercedes concept also has a small robot that’ll scramble out onto to roadside. Mercedes says this robot will then act or transform into a warning triangle, for other motorists, which is  and act as a warning triangle for other motorists.

Mercedes ESF safety car at Frankfurt motor show 2019 - warning triangles in front grille

‘Safety is part of the brand DNA of Mercedes-Benz. We have repeatedly demonstrated that we are not short of ideas in this field since the 1970s, with our Experimental Safety Vehicles,’ said Ola Källenius, the next CEO but currently in charge of car development.

‘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.’

By Curtis Moldrich

CAR's online editor and racing-sim enthusiast