A new concept for child safety was recently showcased by Mercedes-Benz in its 2019 Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF). The child seat concept comes with Pre-Safe functions, where the seatbelts are preventively tensioned before a crash and side impact protection elements are extended. Monitoring of seat installation and the child's vital signs are other functions integrated into the seat.
On Child Safety Day (June 10), the safety experts from Mercedes-Benz will be presenting a development offering greater protection for the smallest vehicle occupants in the future mobility sector.
Mercedes-Benz is a pioneer in active and passive safety. Its in-house accident research department was established 50 years ago, and in 2002, Pre-Safe heralded a new era in the field of preventive occupant protection. Pre-Safe helps vehicles and their occupants prepare for an impending accident, thus ensuring that the protective potential of seat belts and airbags is exploited to the full, for example.
The networked Pre-Safe child seat (from birth to age four/ 40-105cm, to 18kg: rearward-facing up to 15 months), which has been unveiled in the ESF 2019 Experimental Safety Vehicle, reduces the risk of such incorrect installation. The child seat is connected with the vehicle via a wireless link and equipped with its own installation monitoring system: eight symbols directly on the seat guide the user through the individual installation steps in self-explanatory manner and indicate when the seat has been fitted correctly. The link with the vehicle means that installation of the seat can also be checked and monitored on the media display from the driver's seat and the front passenger seat.
Added safety from belt pretensioning and side impact protection
The special protective functions of the child seat are also activated by wireless connection. When the vehicle's sensors detect a Pre-Safe-relevant driving situation, the child seat's five-point belt system is tensioned within milliseconds and a side-impact protection element is extended. The great advantage here is that thanks to the tensioned belt, the child is more firmly and accurately fixed in the seat and belt slack is reduced. The side impact protection elements also follow this approach.
Added safety through monitoring of vital signs
Further highlights of the Pre-Safe child seat are an integrated camera and special sensors to monitor the child's temperature, pulse and breathing and to establish whether the child is asleep. These additional features are useful above all when children under 15 months are correctly transported in a rearward-facing position on the rear seat.
During the journey, animations (e.g. 'Everything OK' or 'Child Waking Up') on the media display provide information about the state of the child, without distracting the driver from the traffic to any substantial degree. The display is intuitive to understand, and the system requires no additional mirrors in the interior. When the vehicle is stationary, at traffic lights, it is additionally possible to switch briefly to a live video image on the media display. If required, and with the help of the Mercedes me App, all the vital signs can also be transferred to a smartphone during a journey, e.g. to inform the other parent about the child's condition.
It has not yet been decided whether such a seat will go into series production. However, it is highly likely that many of the presented innovations will be implemented at some point in the future.