Mercedes-Benz "Intelligent Drive" TecDay: Networked with all senses (II)

V. Extended PRE-SAFE® protection: Prevention is better than cure

Ten years ago, Mercedes-Benz unveiled a ground-breaking safety concept in the form of the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection system, which has been undergoing continuous refinement ever since. Now, the safety pioneer is increasing protection levels once again.


The new PRE-SAFE® functions can help to prevent collisions with pedestrians and vehicles in front in city traffic, defuse dangerous situations caused by traffic behind and enhance the protection offered by the seat belts.

Including pedestrian detection and City Brake function: BAS PLUS and PRE-SAFE® Brake
Pedestrian detection has been added to the BAS PLUS and PRE-SAFE® Brake functions, while autonomous braking for vehicles in front has undergone a major advance, too.

Thanks to the combination of stereo camera and radar sensors, it is now possible to detect pedestrians in front of the vehicle. Visual and acoustic warnings are triggered when a hazard is spotted. If the driver then reacts by braking, the braking power will be boosted by BAS PLUS as the situation requires, right up to a full brake application. Should the driver fail to react, PRE-SAFE® Brake triggers autonomous vehicle braking. The PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection is active up to approx. 72 km/h, and is able to prevent collisions with pedestrians autonomously from an initial speed of up to 50 km/h.

Evaluations of GIDAS accident data carried out by Mercedes-Benz indicate that this new technology could avoid 6 percent of pedestrian accidents and reduce the severity of a further 41 percent.The operating range of the autonomous braking function for stationary vehicles has been optimised so that rear-end collisions can likewise be avoided at speeds of up to 50 km/h now.

BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist and PRE-SAFE® Brake with pedestrian detection rely on the same sensors employed for the adaptive cruise control system DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist: the new stereo camera plus the multistage radar sensor system (see section "Under the microscope").

Safety measures in response to an imminent rear impact: PRE-SAFE® PLUS

PRE-SAFE® PLUS offers an extension of the familiar occupant protection measures in situations where traffic behind poses a danger. A radar sensor in the rear bumper monitors the traffic behind the vehicle. If the risk of an impact from the rear is detected, the rear hazard warning lights are activated to alert the driver of the vehicle behind (not on vehicles with USA/Canada coding). Apart from this, the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection measures, such as the reversible belt tensioners, are deployed. Plus, if the vehicle is stopped and the driver indicates a wish to remain stationary – by depressing the brake pedal, for example, activating the HOLD function or moving the selector lever to "P" – PRE-SAFE® PLUS will also come to the driver's aid by increasing the brake pressure in order to keep the vehicle firmly braked during a possible rear-end collision.

Keeping the vehicle firmly braked greatly reduces the strain placed on the occupants, such as the risk of whiplash injuries. At the same time, it serves to protect other road users by restricting uncontrolled vehicle movements after the initial impact that could lead to secondary collisions, such as running into a vehicle in front or colliding with pedestrians or other road users at junctions.

Intelligent countermovement: PRE-SAFE® Impulse

Mercedes-Benz is extending the front seat belt's protective function with the introduction of PRE-SAFE® Impulse: at an early phase of the crash, before the resulting deceleration starts to increase, the front occupants are pulled away from the direction of impact and deeper into their seats by their seat belts. By the time the accident enters the phase when loads peak, the extra distance they are retracted by can be used while dissipating energy in a controlled fashion. Pre-acceleration and force limitation allow the occupants to be temporarily isolated from the effects of the crash, significantly reducing the risk and severity of injuries in a frontal collision.

With PRE-SAFE® Impulse, the seat belt strap can be retracted by pyrotechnic means at all three belt anchorage points, and released again with controlled force. The fundamental difference compared to conventional belt tensioners is that the force for retracting the belt strap is maintained for a much longer time. The deployment logic fires the seat belt system's belt tensioners progressively depending on the severity of the accident. In this way, the tensioning force can be adapted as required. The PRE-SAFE® Impulse system is integrated in the seat's structure and supplements the pyrotechnic reel tensioner with a pyrotechnic buckle and anchor fitting tensioner including central gas generator.

VI. Extended protection in the rear: The seat belt gets into top shape

Mercedes-Benz is further reinforcing the safety system for passengers in the rear with the active seat-belt buckle and the beltbag. In contrast to many other manufacturers, the seat belts in the rear already include belt tensioners and belt force limiters today.

Both systems were furthermore developed with a particular view toward new markets. There, the occupancy rate in the rear is as much as 30 percent, making it much higher than in Europe. The two systems will be premiered in the next S-Class.

Reducing belt slack: the active seat-belt buckle

With the active seat-belt buckle, an electric motor extends and retracts the belt buckle automatically. In this way, any belt slack in the area of the pelvis and thorax can be reduced so that passengers are secured more firmly in both the sideways and the lengthways direction. The active seat-belt buckle fits in with Mercedes-Benz's integral safety concept. In keeping with an all-embracing approach to safety, this concept covers all phases of automotive safety: from safety while driving through safety in hazardous situations and protection in the event of an accident to minimisation of the consequences of accidents.

The innovation is classic Mercedes-Benz, improving safety and comfort in one. This is because fastening seat belts in the rear is also made much simpler: the seat belt buckle emerges from the upholstery when the rear doors are opened and is provided with an illuminated insertion slot. Simplifying use of the seat belt in this manner may increase the percentage of rear passengers who buckle up. It also makes it easier to assist children or people who require help in fastening their seat belts.

The active seat-belt buckle is furthermore integrated in the PRE-SAFE® anticipatory safety system. This means that whenever PRE-SAFE® becomes active in critical driving situations or when the system detects the vehicle approaching other objects at a critical speed, reversible belt tensioning is also performed in the rear via the active seat-belt buckle function. The restraint system and the passengers are thus better prepared for a possible accident situation. In this way, the active seat-belt buckle complements the pyrotechnic belt tensioning which has featured as standard on all outer rear seats in Mercedes-Benz vehicles for many years now, and is triggered in the event of an impact exceeding a certain severity.

The active seat-belt buckle is a motorised belt buckle which can be extended upwards by 70 millimetres and retracted by 40 millimetres. The belt buckle is attached via a cable to a nut which runs on a spindle, translating the electric motor's rotary movement into a linear movement.

The following functions are carried out by means of this movement:

- Seat belt reminder/fastening aid: the active seat-belt buckle is provided with an illuminated insertion slot, attracting the occupants' attention to the buckle. Particularly in the dark, this makes it easier to find the belt buckle and connect it with the seat belt tongue. In addition, the belt buckle is extended by 70 millimetres when occupants enter the rear of the vehicle, to facilitate fastening of the seat belt. When extended, the belt buckle is more readily accessible and it is easier to insert the belt tongue. Both functions are activated when the doors are opened by passengers entering the rear of the vehicle.

- Minimised belt slack: after the belt tongue has been inserted, the belt buckle returns to its original position. This reduces any belt slack in the area of the pelvis and thorax, and ensures that the belt fits correctly in the pelvis area.

- PRE-SAFE® function for rear occupants: the active seat-belt buckle is fully integrated in the vehicle's PRE-SAFE® system. Whenever PRE-SAFE® becomes active in critical driving situations or when the system detects the vehicle approaching other objects at a critical speed, reversible belt tensioning is also performed in the rear via the active seat-belt buckle function. The restraint system and the passengers are thus better prepared for a possible accident system. In contrast to its extended position to facilitate fastening of the seat belt, the belt buckle is retracted by approx. 40 millimetres instead. This reversible function increases the belt tensioning on the occupant by up to 80 millimetres. In addition, the belt buckle branches off at a lower point at the occupant's hip. This reduces the risk of the pelvis submarining under the belt. Securing the occupants more effectively in this way can reduce the strain to which they are exposed in the event of an accident. The active seat-belt buckle complements the pyrotechnic belt tensioning which has featured as standard in Mercedes-Benz vehicles for many years now, and is triggered in the event of an actual impact.

- POST-SAFE functionality: to facilitate the rescue of occupants and to assist rescue personnel or the occupants themselves in unbuckling the seat belts, the belt buckle is extended once again as soon as the doors are opened by rescue personnel or the occupants themselves after the system has detected a crash and the vehicle has come to a standstill, provided that the on-board electrical system is intact. The raised belt buckle position allows better access from inside the vehicle, while illumination of the buckle draws attention to the belt's opening mechanism.

An airbag for seat belts: the beltbag

The beltbag is an inflatable seat-belt strap that is able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain placed on the ribcage.
Should the crash sensors detect a severe frontal impact, the airbag control unit will trigger deployment and inflation of the beltbag. A gas generator then inflates the multi-layered belt strap with Velcro seams to nearly three times its normal width. The resulting larger surface area is able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, thereby reducing the risk of injury.

The beltbag is used in exactly the same way as a conventional seat belt. The belt strap's design is different from that of the standard belt though, and received praise in practical trials for being extremely comfortable to wear and for its extra-soft belt strap edge.

VII. Under the microscope: an unconventional development tool - Virtual human models

The Mercedes-Benz safety experts have developed the active seat-belt buckle and beltbag with the aid of virtual human models, which provide a clearer picture of what happens to a vehicle's occupants in an accident than crash test dummies. For these digital models simulate not only the human body's outer form, but also its internal structures, such as bones and soft tissue.

"All the crucial biological features of humans – joints, muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones – can only be simulated in very rough terms with dummies," explains Dr Hakan Ipek, expert for virtual human models at Mercedes-Benz. "Some seated positions, such as when a rear passenger is dozing and the belt does not pass over the pelvis in the correct manner, simply cannot be recreated with a dummy," he adds.

With virtual human models, on the other hand, the biomechanical characteristics of the human body are simulated in detail on a computer, enabling examination of the stresses to which the model is exposed in a virtual crash test.




























Credits: Daimler AG

Copyright © 2012, Mercedes-Benz-Blog. All rights reserved.

No comments

Powered by Blogger.