The ESF 2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle
PRE-SAFE 360°: full emergency braking before an impact
 
With the multiple award-winning PRE-SAFE® system, Mercedes-Benz has once again been underlining its role as a pioneer in the safety field since 2002: once the system recognises certain critical driving situations, PRE-SAFE® activates occupant protection measures as a precaution. As a further development, PRE-SAFE 360° monitors not only the areas to the side, but also to the rear of the vehicle.
PRE-SAFE 360° uses short-range or multi-mode sensors to monitor the area behind the vehicle to a range of up to 60 metres. If the accident early-warning system registers that a collision is unavoidable, the brakes are applied around 600 milliseconds before the impact. If the already stationary car is braked during a rear-end collision, this not only prevents secondary accidents where the car is e.g. uncontrollably shunted into a road junction or onto a pedestrian crossing. The severity of possible whiplash injuries to the occupants can also be reduced by application of the brakes, as the vehicle and therefore its occupants have less forward acceleration. The driver always has the final decision with PRE-SAFE 360°, however: if he accelerates because he is able to prevent the rear-end collision by moving forward, for example, the brakes are instantly released.
Contrary to the widely held opinion among drivers, it does not make sense to take one's foot off the brake pedal before an impending rear-end collision. The correct action would be to apply the brakes as hard as possible, however accident re-search findings show that the driver of a stationary vehicle impacted from the rear is moved backwards by up to 20 centimetres. This inevitably causes his feet to slip from the pedals.
The protective effect of PRE-SAFE 360° supports that of the NECK-PRO crash-responsive head restraints, which are already standard equipment in many Mercedes model series. If the sensor system detects a rear-end collision with a defined impact severity, it releases pre-tensioned springs inside the head restraints, causing the head restraints to move forward by about 40 millimetres and upwards by 30 millimetres within a matter of milliseconds. This means that the heads of the driver and front passenger are supported at an early stage than with conventional head restraints.
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