Next-gen Mercedes-Benz S-Class to offer frontal airbags for rear passengers: How it works

Mercedes-Benz has pushed the goalpost yet again with the upcoming new S-Class. Along with the many safety and tech features that the next-gen flagship sedan will offer, most notable are innovative frontal airbags for rear passengers and a centre airbag for front passengers. Here’s how they work and how they will make the future of cars safer.

By:Published: July 30, 2020 4:28 PM

An arguable rule in the world of the automobile states that if you want to know what features your mass-produced family hatchback, sedan or due by popular demand — mini SUVs, all you need to do is look at the latest or upcoming Mercedes-Benz S-Class. If you look at your modern vehicle, you will notice many features like radar-guided cruise control, auto park assist, or even airbags for that matter. They all made their debut in the same production vehicle – the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. With every new-generation, Mercedes-Benz has upped the ante every single time, and the new one is no exception. Mercedes-Benz is currently in the final stages of developing the next-generation of its flagship saloon with the S-Class W223 scheduled to be introduced by the end of 2020. However, even before we get to see the S-Class in its full unhindered glory, Mercedes has shown us images of the pre-production model during its development. Additionally, the German automaker has highlighted some of the new tech and safety features and innovations that the S-Class will offer.

While there have been a number of new innovative introductions to the new S-Class’ feature list, one that sticks out, or rather stays hidden until required, is a new frontal airbag for the rear passengers. Until now, the only places one would find airbags would be in the steering wheel, the front dash for the front occupants, side airbags placed within the car’s seats, curtain airbags hidden under the body trims of the interior, seatbelt airbags and even airbags fitted in the sunroofs. But there were no airbags to protect the rear passengers from the front. Mercedes-Benz has engineered a solution to this problem for the upcoming S-Class and here is how it works.

Dr Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving demonstrating the new rear airbag of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W223.Dr Michael Hafner, Head of Automated Driving demonstrating the new rear airbag of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class W223.

The innovation is a world’s first front airbag which is designed to help protect passengers seated on the outer rear seats of the vehicle. Mercedes-Benz claims that in the event of a severe front collision, this new airbag can greatly reduce the loads acting on the head and neck of the rear passengers sitting on the outer sides.

Mercedes-Benz has not revealed finer details about the new airbag in the S-Class and where it will be exactly placed. But it suggests that a tubular structure is inflated in front of the rear passengers. The inflation comes from compressed gas and deploys in a wing-shaped structure. This structure deploys a large tent-like airbag between the two wings which is inflated by the surrounding air. This is done with the help of a new kind of specially designed valves in the skin. The technology of the valves has already been patented by Mercedes. These valves are designed to not allow air to escape when the passenger is immersed in the airbag in the event of a crash. The deployment is done gently in a very precise manner which lowers the risk of injury. These airbags work with the restraining effect of the seat belts and allow for additional support to the head and neck of the passenger with the belt bag and the inflatable seat belt. The frontal rear airbag will be offered in the new S-Class as an option.

Additionally, the S-Class will also offer a centre airbag for front passengers which will help reduce the risk of head collisions between the front passengers in the event of a side impact.

The frontal rear airbags and the centre airbag are only a couple of the copious amount of features that the S-Class will offer. Mercedes-Benz continues to offer insights about its upcoming flagship and it is something worth keeping a close watch on. Because eventually in 10-year’s time your economy hatchback or mini SUV in the future will probably offer a similar kind of equipment.

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