At Mercedes, safety research has always been high on the agenda. A total of 31 ESF prototypes have been built at Daimler for this purpose, all based on series production models. Most of these were then destroyed in crash tests, though some survived to go on public display. The most up-to-date of all, the ESF 2009, is essentially a Mercedes S 400 Hybrid boasting more than a dozen safety innovations.
In recent years, this area of research has taken on increased significance. Who would have thought a couple of decades back that airbags would one day explode out of steering wheels to protect drivers from injury? Or that the cars of today would automatically keep their distance, have better night vision than humans and even apply the brakes by themselves? All of this would have sounded like science fiction. Now, the Mercedes research team have come up with a package of fresh ideas. The five major components of the latest ESF vehicle are 'Pre-Safe Structure' (for improved stability), 'Pre-Safe Pulse' (for side-on crash protection), 'Braking Bag' (auxiliary brake), adaptive full-beam light and vehicle communication.