We first saw Mercedes-Benz’s Beltbag in the company’s gadget-laden ESF2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle. Now the German automaker has announced the inflatable seat-belt strap is set to go into production and debut in an as yet unnamed luxury-class model. Mercedes is following in the footsteps of Ford, which introduced the first production inflatable seat-belts in the 2011 Explorer and now includes the technology in a number of models.
Like Ford’s offering, the Beltbag is worn as a normal seat-belt, but is inflated by a gas generator when the vehicle’s crash sensors detect a severe frontal impact. The Velcro seams of the multi-layered belt strap then rip open as the belt expands to almost three times its normal width, providing a larger surface area over which the force impacting on the passenger’s ribcage can be better distributed.
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Because crash test dummies aren’t built to measure the lower force exerted on an occupant due to a wider strap, Mercedes has again turned to virtual human models to examine the biomechanical strain resulting from a collision. The company also used virtual human models to develop the active seat-belt buckle that is also earmarked for inclusion in a luxury Mercedes model. Like that technology, the Beltbag will only be used on the rear seats, as front occupants are already protected by airbags.
Source: DaimlerView gallery - 2 images