Mercedes-Benz has continued a long-held tradition of safety innovations, revealing the world’s first production-ready rear frontal airbag.
Designed to compliment existing safety systems, the optional rear airbag works in conjunction with belt restraints and other existing safety systems.
The new style of airbag deploys from the front seat backrests in severe frontal collisions, helping protect passengers in the outer rear seats.
Mercedes claims the rear airbag “can greatly reduce the loads acting on the heads and necks of the outer rear passengers” in severe frontal collisions.
Read next: Everything you need to know about airbags
SO, HOW DOES IT WORK?
Unlike a typical frontal airbag that is fully inflated by air, just part of the rear airbag’s structure is inflated.
The cylindrical tubular frame is deployed in a wing-shaped structure, with the “tent-like” airbag in the middle.
Mercedes says this softer central piece is inflated by valves in the skin of the fabric, designed so air cannot escape once the passenger’s head is immersed in the airbag.
By only inflating the tube structure instead of the whole system, Mercedes says this new, relatively large, airbag can be deployed rapidly. It is also claimed to reduce the impact of for the passenger.
“The rear airbag with an innovative, tubular structure is unique. And as a result, it deploys extremely gently,” says Dr Thomas W. Hellmuth, Mercedes-Benz’s head of body and safety.
“Naturally, the passengers should continue to fasten their seat belts. With the new, illuminated-design belt buckles, putting on seat belts is now even more intuitive.”
BUT WAIT, THAT’S NOT ALL!
Mercedes-Benz hasn’t stopped there with their latest S-Class, fitting a range of other safety innovations to the next-gen large sedan.
A new active suspension system can elevate the entire car by 8cm if it detects an impending side impact – reducing the load on door structures.
Certain markets will also receive a centre airbag that deploys between the front occupants.