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The future today.

What does the future of vehicle safety look like?

Like this perhaps:

  • The steering wheel and pedals will retract in the autonomous driving mode.
  • The car will communicate with all the other road users.
  • The digitally networked child seat will be equipped with PRE-SAFE® solutions.
  • The USB seat belt buckle in the rear will provide a power source for a smartphone when the belt is fastened.
  • And the warning triangle will be deployed by a robot in the event of an accident.

None of these features are available yet in series production, but these solutions and other safety highlights are already in a form that can be experienced today in the Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicle ESF 2019.

The Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 in front of a zebra crossing. The vehicle uses light signals and projections on the rear window to inform other road users.

ESF 2019 uses light signals and projections on the rear window to inform other road users.

A generation team: Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicles ESF 13, ESF 22a, ESF 24 and ESF 2009.

A generation team: Mercedes-Benz Experimental Safety Vehicles ESF 13, ESF 22a, ESF 24 and ESF 2009.

Thinking ahead since 1971.

In June 2019, ESF 2019 made its first major appearance at the 26th International ESV Conference in Eindhoven (Netherlands). This ESV continues the unique tradition of Mercedes-Benz experimental safety vehicles that began in the early 1970s.

For almost 40 years, Mercedes-Benz has been researching the possible future of vehicle safety very realistically with experimental safety vehicles. In 1971, the brand presented its first ESV to the public.

The innovations for primary, secondary and integrated safety measures that are tested throughout the ESF programme are sustainable to a high degree. Many of the applications have been successfully transferred to series production and now set standards for the entire industry.

Focus on safety.

The Stuttgart brand’s ESVs were initiated against a serious background: as a result of mass motorisation, severe road traffic accidents increased worldwide in the 1960s. As a consequence, the US Department of Transportation (DOT) launched a programme to make passenger cars safer.

The DOT organised an international conference that has been held since 1970. Since 1991, it has been called the “Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles”.

The ESF 24 from behind. Here, it clearly shows its affinity to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the 116 model series.

Close to production status: ESF 24 clearly shows its affinity to the S-Class of the 116 model series.

Four milestones.

Of more than 30 ESVs designed by Mercedes-Benz to research future automotive safety systems, the company presented four vehicles based on the 114 and 116 model series to the public in the 1970s: ESF 05, ESF 13, ESF 22 and ESF 24.

ESF 05.

  • Driver and front passenger airbags, with a supplementary airbag in the backrest of each front seat designed to protect the rear passengers sitting in the outboard positions.
  • Self-fastening front belts, a total of five three-point belts with force limiters.
  • The vehicle was designed for an impact velocity of 80 km/h.
  • Brake system with ABS anti-lock brake system.
  • Safety nets as an alternative to the rear head restraints.
  • Basis: saloon car of the W 114 model series (Stroke/8).
  • Presented at the 2nd International ESV Conference staged from 26 to 29 October 1971 in Sindelfingen.
The Mercedes-Benz ESF 05 with a safety net in front of the rear window which was tried out as an alternative to the rear head restraints.

A safety net in front of the rear window was tried out as an alternative to the rear head restraints.

The front view of the Mercedes-Benz ESF 13 shows that it is a good half a metre longer than the standard Stroke/8 (W 114).

The ESF 13 is a good half a metre longer than the standard Stroke/8 (W 114) to improve safety.

ESF 13.

  • Revised version of the ESF 05.
  • Technical impact protection was also extensively tested on the ESF 13. This included a hydraulic front impact absorber. Overall, the vehicle was a good half a metre longer than the standard saloon.
  • The weight was about 700 kilograms (about 50%) higher than that of the basic vehicle.
  • In the interior, new materials were used to cushion possible impact zones and reduce the likelihood of injury.
  • Redesigned front and rear ends featured underskid bumpers.
  • Presented at the 3rd International ESV Conference, from 30 May to 2 June 1972 in Washington, D.C. (USA).

ESF 22.

  • Driver’s seat with three-point belt including three force limiters and airbag as a complete solution.
  • The vehicle was designed for an impact velocity of 65 km/h.
  • ESF 22 benefited from safety-relevant innovations used in the 116 model series: for example, interior with fewer potential points of injury, even more rigid safety passenger cell and further improvement of the controlled deformation capability of the crumple zones at front and rear.
  • Basis: S-Class saloon of the 116 model series.
  • Presented at the 4th International ESV Conference staged from 13 to 16 March 1973 in Kyoto (Japan).
The side sections of the Mercedes-Benz ESF 22’s front bumper consisted of foamed plastic.

The side sections of the Mercedes-Benz ESF 22’s front bumper consisted of foamed plastic.

The ESF 24 from the front. Here, it clearly shows its affinity to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the 116 model series.

Close to production status: ESF 24 clearly shows its affinity to the S-Class of the 116 model series.

ESF 24.

  • Mission accomplished. The ESF 24 was considered a successful completion of this early phase of the project in 1974.
  • With this vehicle, the engineers came very close to series production: it was just over ten per cent heavier and 265 millimetres longer than the S-Class.
  • Over the next few years, several features including ABS anti-lock braking system (1978), seat belt tensioners (1981), driver airbags (1981) and front passenger airbags (1987) were carried over into series production.
  • Basis: S-Class of the 116 model series.
  • Presented at the 5th International ESV Conference staged from 4 to 7 June 1974 in London (UK).

A look ahead to the future of automotive safety.

At the start of the new millennium, Mercedes-Benz successfully resumed its tradition of experimental safety vehicles with the ESF 2009 and ESF 2019.

Detailed view of the partial high beam in the Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009.

The partial high beam was tested in the ESF 2009.

The black and white Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009 from 2009.

The tradition of the ESVs from the 1970s was taken up again by Mercedes-Benz in 2009 with safety experimental vehicle ESF 2009.

ESF 2009.

  • Supplementary brake installed in vehicle floor (braking bag).
  • Inflatable metal structures to provide structural components with supplementary stability (PRE-SAFE® structure).
  • Separation of occupants as part of PRE-SAFE® (interseat protection) measures.
  • Inflatable expanding seat belt cushion designed to minimise injury hazard (belt airbag).
  • LED headlights with automatic adjustment of light distribution and spotlight function.
  • Monitoring of the rear environment to detect a possible rear impact (PRE-SAFE® 360°).
  • Preventive upper body movement towards the centre of the vehicle (PRE-SAFE® pulse).
  • Automatic volume adjustment of front passenger front airbags (size adaptive airbags).
  • Basis: S-Class saloon of the 221 model series.
  • Presented at the 21st International ESV Conference staged from 15 to 18 June 2009 in Stuttgart (Germany).

ESF 2019.

  • When the highly automated driving mode is active, the steering wheel and pedals are retracted, which can reduce the risk of injury in a crash.
  • New ideas in restraint systems for greater interior flexibility include the seat belt integrated in the seat and airbags in alternative installation spaces, such as the driver’s airbag in the instrument panel.
  • Vitalising interior lighting with daylight-like light from the sun visor to keep the driver more aware for longer.
  • Cooperative vehicle environment communication using displays and light signals.
  • The PRE-SAFE® child seat concept tensions the seat belts and extends the side impact protection elements in the event of a possible crash.
  • In the event of an accident or breakdown, a robot automatically deploys from the rear of the vehicle and sets up an illuminated warning triangle on the side of the road.
  • With PRE-SAFE® Curve, the seat belt tensioner warns the driver if he or she is likely to underestimate the approaching bend; PRE-SAFE® side lighting with electroluminescent paint can mitigate accident situations; PRE-SAFE® Impulse can enhance the protection of passengers and other accident participants at the end of a traffic jam.
  • The rear airbag has an innovative deployment concept with a special tubular structure for inflating and positioning the airbag.
  • The USB seat belt buckle charges a smartphone when the safety belt is fastened.
  • Active brake assist has enhanced functions and now also detects pedestrians and cyclists moving parallel to the original direction of travel when turning corners.
  • Basis: Mercedes-Benz GLE.
  • Professional premiere at the 26th ESV Conference from 10 to 13 June 2019 in Eindhoven (Netherlands).
The orange Mercedes-Benz Type W 111 and the black and white Mercedes-Benz ESF 2009.

Mercedes-Benz ESVs are a key feature in the unique history of vehicle safety at Mercedes-Benz.

Innovation culture to promote safety.

With its ESVs, Mercedes-Benz is continuing the tradition of pioneering innovations for vehicle safety. These include, for example, the safety door lock patented in 1949, the safety body with crumple zones from 1959 and a safer interior construction to reduce the risk of injury in an accident.

Development of new vehicles.

Also in 1959, Mercedes-Benz began to run systematic crash tests. The results of these are incorporated in the development of new vehicles. The ESV programme also includes numerous crash tests. Requirements for this were defined in as early as 1970: among other things, the ESVs undergo extremely demanding front and rear impact tests against a rigid barrier at 80 km/h and a side impact at 20 km/h against a mast.

Since 1969, Mercedes-Benz has been analysing real accidents in a department set up specifically for this purpose and incorporating the findings in safety development.

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 16.08.2019.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

7 Angaben zu Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe der UN/ECE-Regelung Nr. 101 ermittelt. Die EG-Typgenehmigung und eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.