Mercedes Benz is about to introduce yet another world’s first safety feature called the Beltbag. This system, as the name suggests, is a safety belt which contains an airbag. It will be used for the rear passengers and will reduce the impact in case of a head-on collision. The idea of the beltbag is nothing new, but Mercedes will be the first company to use it in a mass produced car, probably the next S-Class.
The beltbag includes a gas generator that inflates the multi-layered belt strap with Velcro seams to nearly three times its normal width. The resulting larger surface area is able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, thereby reducing the risk of injury. The bag will reduce the strain placed on the ribcage.
Good news is that while the belt strap’s design is different from that of the standard belt, you wear it the same way you wear a normal seat belt and it’s very practical and comfortable.
Mercedes has tested thins thing not with dummies – because they can’t quantify the benefits resulting from a wider belt strap, such as the lower force exerted on occupants – but with virtual human models developed by computer engineers.
“Mercedes-Benz is pursuing its safety initiative in the rear of vehicles with the Beltbag,” comments Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Sch?neburg, Head of Passive Safety and Vehicle Functions at Mercedes-Benz Cars. “After all, the excellent standard of safety offered by Mercedes-Benz doesn’t just apply to all model series, but to all seats, too.”
Just like the active seat-belt buckle recently presented by Mercedes-Benz that is likewise earmarked for inclusion in a luxury model, the Beltbag was developed with a particular view toward new markets. There, the occupancy rate in the rear is as much as 30 percent, making it much higher than in Europe. By introducing the Beltbag, Mercedes-Benz is further expanding the safety system for passengers in the rear – in contrast to many other manufacturers, seat belts in the second row of Mercedes-Benz models already come equipped with belt tensioners and belt force limiters. It is not planned to introduce the Beltbag for the front occupants, as airbags are already included in the front on all models as a supplementary restraint system.