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Old 02-16-2003, 04:07 PM
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Pre-Safe Worlds Safest Car

Press Release

MERCEDES-BENZ LAUNCHES FIRST-EVER CAR WITH “REFLEXES”

New Pre-Safe System Anticipates Collisions to Protect Occupants

TORONTO, ON (Oct. 15, 2002) – The 2003 Mercedes-Benz S-Class sedan is the world’s first
production car equipped with an astonishing new system that can sense a possible collision a few
seconds in advance and take pre-crash protective measures. Called Pre-Safe, this high-tech system
inaugurates an entirely new era in vehicle safety.

Mercedes-Benz engineers concluded that cars can be equipped to sense an imminent crash
up to five full seconds before the actual impact. As a result, they’ve designed the innovative Pre-Safe
system to first tension the seatbelts if the system senses an impending collision. The system uses
new resettable electric tensioners in addition to the existing pyrotechnic belt tensioners that still
deploy on impact. What’s more, if any of the power seats – front or rear -- are reclined, Pre-Safe
moves them to a more vertical position, and, if the vehicle skids (sometimes a precursor to rollover),
the system automatically closes the sunroof. If a crash is averted, the electric belt tensioners
automatically relax and are ready to deploy again if necessary.
Pre-Safe reacts to uncorrected “fishtailing” (or oversteer) as well as “plowing” (or understeer)
by using existing sensors for Electronic Stability Program (ESP) to measure steering angle, vehicle
yaw and lateral acceleration. Emergency braking can also trigger Pre-Safe, which monitors sensors
for the Brake Assist system as well.
Mercedes-Benz actually initiated the concept of preventive Safety measures some time ago.
In 1989, the SL roadster was first equipped with an automatic rollbar that snaps into position in a third
of a second if the car senses an impending rollover. Currently both the SL and CLK Cabriolet are
equipped with such an anticipatory system.
2003 Mercedes-Benz Pre Safe/2
Diligent Accident Research
The development of Pre-Safe is based on the findings of Mercedes-Benz accident
researchers, who concluded that about two-thirds of all accidents are preceded by skidding,
emergency braking or a sudden evasive maneuver – all of which can provide several valuable
seconds of advance warning before impact. In the past, the auto industry didn’t make use of this
relatively wide and potentially lifesaving “window,” since conventional airbags and seat belt tensioners
are only triggered when the impact actually occurs.
The First Car With Reflexes
However, Pre-Safe makes use of technology that reads these danger signals in advance and
uses the remaining seconds to react and take some precautionary measures. In a sense, Pre-Safe
equips the car with reflexes, almost as if it’s alive. Just as the perception of sudden danger triggers a
human reflex action, so the innovative safety technology of the S-Class triggers special systems to
reduce the risk of occupant injury.
Six Years of Development for Pre-Safe
Pre-Safe is the result of some six years of intensive development work by Mercedes-Benz
engineers. Hundreds of drivers took part in the testing and refining of Pre-Safe on test tracks and in
the DaimlerChrysler driving simulator in Berlin. This test program, among other things, proved that
pre-crash occupant protection doesn’t restrict the freedom of the driver or the drivability of the car but
rather gives all occupants an enhanced measure of security.
Exciting Potential for Future Enhancements
In the future, Pre-Safe could include additional sub-systems such as extending bumpers,
smart crumple zones or moveable interior door panels designed to help keep occupants further away
from deformation zones. Radar, infrared or ultrasound technology could be used to monitor the
vehicle’s surroundings and measure the speed, angle and mass of an approaching object. If it’s a
truck or van, vehicle height might even be raised to improve crash compatibility.
Dr. Rudolf Schoeneburg, the head of Mercedes-Benz safety development said, “While our
present protection systems such as airbags, curtain airbags or belt tensioners must ensure safety in a
2003 Mercedes-Benz Pre Safe/3
matter of milliseconds, accident recognition can be measured in seconds. Making use of this
relatively long interval opens up new dimensions in occupant protection.”
Five Decades of Safety Development at Mercedes-Benz
In 1952, Mercedes-Benz engineer Bela Barenyi obtained a patent for his crumple zone – an
invention first phased into a production Mercedes in 1959. Barenyi was credited with over 2500
patents in his extraordinary career, and he was eventually inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame.
His crumple zone design revolutionized body design throughout the auto industry and is now part of
virtually every car on the road.
In the years that followed, Mercedes-Benz engineers pioneered numerous other safety
innovations such as the airbag, belt tensioner, belt force limiter and curtain airbag – all of which were
developed based on analysis of real-world accidents. In addition, anti-lock brakes, traction control,
Electronic Stability Program (ESP), and electronic braking were all Mercedes-Benz inventions. These
systems have been refined to the point where entirely new approaches such as Pre-Safe are needed
in order to continue making significant advancements in automotive safety.



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