History (I): Developments in safety technology: Trailblazing safety innovations

Nov 30, 2016

Mercedes-Benz is the pioneer in automotive safety. No other car manufacturer carries out such intensive research in this field and has brought so many crucial innovations onto the market. Ever since the invention of the motor car in 1886, Mercedes-Benz together with its precursor brands has been instrumental in the development of active and passive safety, setting one new benchmark after another in the process.

1900 Wilhelm Maybach develops the Mercedes 35 HP as a vehicle with exemplary road safety. Contributing factors are the long wheelbase, low centre of gravity, the engine bolted to the frame and the wide track.

1921 The Mercedes 28/95 HP is equipped with front-wheel brakes. The other passenger car models from DMG (Daimler Motoren Gesellschaft) and Benz & Cie. follow suit in 1923/24.

1931 The Mercedes-Benz 170 (W 15) is the first series production automobile with hydraulic braking system and independent front and rear suspension with swing axles.

1941 Patent No. 742 977 of 23 February 1941 for the platform frame developed by Béla Barényi.

1945 Béla Barényi develops the vehicle studies "Concadoro" and "Terracruiser" in this and the following years. Both studies are among the most important works leading up to the safety body with cell construction.

1949 Patent No. 827 905 of 23 April 1949 for the conical-pin safety door lock.

1952 Patent No. 854 157 of 28 February 1952 for the safety body with rigid passenger cell and crumple zones. Implemented in series production in the Mercedes-Benz W 111 model series in 1959.

1954 Single-joint pendulum axle with low pivot point in the Mercedes-Benz 220 a from the W 180 model series.

1958 Patent No. 1 089 664 of 2 July 1958 for the wedge-pin door lock. Market launch as standard equipment in the "Fintail" models in 1959.

1959 Start of systematic crash testing and the use of dummies.

1959 Debut of the Mercedes-Benz W 111 model series ("Fintail") with safety body, softened interior and wedge-pin door lock.

1961 Gradual introduction of disc brakes and dual-circuit braking system in the passenger car range.

1966 Hans Scherenberg and Béla Barényi draft the classification into active and passive safety that will remain valid until the introduction of PRE-SAFE®.

1967 Safety steering system with telescopic steering column and impact absorber across the entire Mercedes-Benz passenger car range

1971 An entire package of active and passive safety measures premieres in the Mercedes-Benz SL of the 107 model series: collision-safe fuel tank above the rear axle, thickly padded instrument panel, deformable or recessed switches and levers, four-spoke safety steering wheel with impact absorber and wide padded boss, newly developed wind deflector profiles on the A-pillars, large tail lamps with ribbed surface profile for extensive resistance to soiling.

1976 The "safety steering shaft for motor vehicles" patented by Béla Barényi in 1963 debuts in the Mercedes-Benz W 123 model series as a collapsible steering column with a corrugated tube.

1978 The second generation of the ABS anti-lock braking system debuts in the S-Class of the W 116 model series. Mercedes-Benz presented a first version not yet ready for series production as early as 1970. Starting in 1980 ABS is present in all model series.

1979 The Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the W 126 model series takes account of asymmetric frontal collisions with a forked-member structure of the front end.

1981 The world's first driver airbag in the S-Class. Mercedes-Benz has been engaged in research into this supplementary restraint system since 1968. Starting in 1982 the driver airbag is available in all model series, the passenger airbag follows in 1987, the side airbag in 1995.

1982 Multi-link rear suspension in the Mercedes-Benz 190 (W 201).

1989 The new SL Roadster models (R 129) make their debut with a belt system integrated into the seats, plus a rollover bar that pops up automatically if the vehicle appears to be on the verge of overturning.

1995 Rain sensor and xenon lights in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class of the 210 model series.

1995 Series introduction of the Electronic Stability Program ESP® in the S-Class Coupé of the 140 model series.

1996 Mercedes-Benz introduces the world's first BAS Brake Assist system into series production.

1997 The sandwich floor of the W 168 model series A-Class causes the engine to glide under the passenger cell in a front-end collision.

1998 The windowbag premieres as an optional extra in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.

1999 Premiere of DISTRONIC proximity control.

1999 The ABC (Active Body Control) active suspension debuts in the CL coupé of the C 215 model series.

1999 Bi-xenon headlamps as standard equipment in the CL coupé of the 215 model series.

2001 Head/thorax side airbags in the SL Roadsters from Mercedes-Benz.

2002 PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant protection system in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, afterwards gradually introduced in the other model series.

2003 Active light function with bi-xenon headlamps (E-Class 211 model series).

2005 The Integral Safety Concept of Mercedes-Benz combines the various systems of active and passive safety.

2005 Mercedes-Benz introduces various safety systems in the S-Class of the W 211 model series, for example, DISTRONIC PLUS, Brake Assist BAS PLUS and Night View Assist.

2006 The Intelligent Light System ensures perfect light distribution on the road in line with the driving situation (in the E-Class of the 211 model series).

2006 Premiere of PRE-SAFE® Brake as an optional extra in the CL Coupé in the 216 model series.

2007 Premiere of Blind Spot Assist as an optional extra in the S-Class and CL-Class.

2009 Premiere of ATTENTION ASSIST in the Mercedes-Benz E-Class of the 212 model series.

2009 Crosswind stabilisation debuts in the revised Mercedes-Benz S-Class of the 221 model series as an additional function of Active Body Control (ABC). The torque vectoring brake also premieres in series production.

2010 World premiere of Active Blind Spot Assist and Active Lane Keeping Assist in the CL-Class (C 216) and S-Class (W 221).

2011 Introduction of the radar-based assistance system COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST in the B-Class (as standard).

2013 New assistance systems and systems with several new key functions (DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist and Stop&Go Pilot, BAS PLUS with Cross-Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus, Night View Assist Plus, ATTENTION ASSIST) in the S-Class. New PRE-SAFE® functions (PRE-SAFE® brake, PRE-SAFE® PLUS, PRE-SAFE® Impulse), improved protection in the rear (seat belt buckle extender with integrated PRE-SAFE® function, beltbag).

2013 Mercedes-Benz puts Car-to-X communication on the road.

2014 The QR code sticker, which gives the emergency services direct access to a vehicle-specific rescue card, becomes available as a retrofit option for older Mercedes-Benz models as well.

2014 MULTIBEAM-LED headlamps in the CLS

2016 The E-Class is equipped with new and improved safety systems. These include the DRIVE PILOT (semi-automated driving up to 210 km/h), Evasive Steering Assist (assists the driver during evasive manoeuvres), PRE-SAFE® Sound (able to prepare the ears for accident noises), PRE-SAFE® Impulse Side (gives the driver or front passenger a slight sideways impulse before a crash, moving them away from the danger zone). The rear beltbag is available in a high-volume series for the first time.