Mercedes introduces the Beltbag inflatable rear seatbelt

Andross Moonah - CAP staff
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The seatbelt is undoubtedly a primary safety feature in today's vehicles, yet it has largely been unchanged over the past few decades. The three-point harness design remains a flat tethered woven strap fastened to its base in a conventional "Y" shape. In recent years, however, inflatable seatbelts have entered the market in vehicles such as the new Ford Explorer and the Lexus LFA supercar, and now Mercedes-Benz is poised to introduce its own inflatable seatbelt with the new Beltbag system.

"Mercedes-Benz is pursuing its safety initiative in the rear of vehicles with the Beltbag," commented Prof. Dr.-Ing. Rodolfo Schöneburg, 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."

The Beltbag is an inflatable seatbelt strap used in the exact same way as a conventional seatbelt, and is meant for rear-seat occupants. When crash sensors in the vehicle detect a significant frontal impact, an airbag control unit will inflate the Beltbag. Afterward, a gas generator inflates the multi-layered belt strap to nearly three times its original width, resulting in a larger surface area that is able to cushion the occupant better. In essence, the Beltbag lessens the strain placed on the ribcage during a frontal collision.

Despite the perceived benefit of the Beltbag device, Mercedes-Benz has no plan to introduce it for front-seat occupants, stating that front airbags are already included on all models as supplementary restraint systems.

In addition to using test dummies in simulated crash tests, Mercedes-Benz has also been using computer-generated human models in order to study biomechanical strains on the body during collisions.

When will it be available? Mercedes isn't saying just yet, but the Beltbag is "... due to go into production in a luxury-class model from Mercedes-Benz," says a press release, which could be the introduction of the next full-size S-Class due next year as a 2014 model.
©(Copyright Canadian Auto Press)

Topics: Mercedes-Benz, Safety, Inflatable seatbelt system,

Organizations: Mercedes-Benz

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