Mercedes-Benz is always on the ball when it comes to safety. Now they've come up with the Beltbag - a seatbelt with an airbag inside.
They say the inflatable seat-belt strap is able to reduce the risk of injury to passengers in the rear in a head-on collision by lessening the strain placed on the ribcage.
So how does it work?
Should the crash sensors detect a severe frontal impact, the airbag control unit will trigger deployment of the Beltbag. A gas generator then inflates the multi-layered belt strap with Velcro seams, to three times its normal width. The larger surface area is able to better distribute the force acting on the passenger, reducing the risk of injury.
Its design is different to that of a normal seatbelt. According to Mercedes-Benz, the Beltbag received top marks in practical tests for being comfortable to wear.
The Beltbag was developed with a particular view toward new markets. The automaker says around 30% more people in those markets take the backseat, than in Europe. 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.
Technologies like ABS and airbags were pioneered by Mercedes-Benz and now exist in almost every car on the market today. Does this mean Beltbags will go mainstream in twenty years' time?