Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 is a step toward the uncrashable car

Mercedes-Benz unveiled its latest concept to showcase what future automotive safety may look like. However, some of the technology in the concept car isn’t far off from production.

The brand’s Experimental Safety Vehicle 2019 (ESF 2019) is based on a standard GLE. Yet, unlike the current GLE, the ESF 2019 can be a completely self-driving car. The cockpit boasts redesigned pedals and a steering wheel that can collapse in to the dash when the driver is ready give up control. That’s not likely for showrooms any time soon.

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Other safety elements are likely coming to a Mercedes-Benz vehicle in the near future. The ESF 2019 debuts technologies such as new airbag installations for better coverage, interior lighting to keep a driver’s attention, and upgraded seat belt pre-tensioners. The latter will tighten the driver’s seat belt if the car detects a corner entry speed is too fast. The system also adds a function for children that inflates the seat belt ahead of a crash to keep them safer.

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Since ESF concepts are about packing as much safety technology as Mercedes-Benz can into a car, the exterior doesn’t fall short. The brand engineered a digital display for the GLE-based ESF 2019 tht will communicate with pedestrians and other cars. It can also tell pedestrians they’ve been recognized and acknowledge their presence. The aqua blue lights placed throughout the car’s exterior are also meant to mimic eye contact—they follow pedestrians as they cross to further ensure a human that the car acknowledges them.

The digital displays can also warn other drivers of dangers ahead, even if the car is parked and not active.

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Perhaps the wildest element is a small robot companion. The robot deploys at the site of a crash or vehicle breakdown and becomes a road hazard sign to let other drivers know of trouble further in advance. We have a feeling vehicle-to-vehicle communications could solve this problem more efficiently, but what’s wrong with Wall-E directing traffic in a concept car?

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Mercedes-Benz ESF 2019 safety car concept

Pre-Safe Impulse Rear may help drivers soon too. The system monitors the rear of the vehicle and can detect if an object or other vehicle is approaching the rear. The car will autonomously move out of the way to avoid an impact, if there’s enough room. This kind of system seems like a natural next step to today’s active safety technology, and it could help reduce minor rear-end crashes.

The brand promises some of these technologies are closer to production than we think. If we do see some of the ESF 2019’s features make production, look for them on the next-generation flagship S-Class sedan first.

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