They have partnered together to create the concept of ‘PRE-SAFE Child’ – a technology pertaining to child car safety
July 12, 2019
The seat, unveiled by Mercedes-Benz, can monitor a child in the back seat and display a visual record as to whether they are calm, restless or asleep. It also signals if the child has slipped out of the belts. With the child seat concept PRE-SAFE Child, the seat belt is preventively tensioned and side-mounted impact protection elements are extended before a collision. Due to the presence of the tensioned belt, the child is more firmly and accurately fixed in the seat while belt slack is reduced. Monitoring of seat installation and the child’s vital signs are other functions integrated into the seat.
“In the moment, what you see here, it’s very expensive,” says Benz engineer Hakan Ipek, who’s spent the past five years working on improving child car seat safety. The prototype costs as much as a complete vehicle, he says. “This is always (how) things start.”
He informs that Britax Roemer, the German division of the global child car seat giant, seeks eventually to bring a seat with similar features that costs much lesser than this, to further its reach to the customers.
“You cannot start with a child seat which is as expensive as a car. It has to be something that the people can afford, not only the super-rich.”
This concept of the child seat of the future is a fundamental part of Mercedes’ Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF). Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe technology can sense situations when a crash is inevitable or likely, slightly before it occurs, then sends a signal to the car’s seat belts to cinch tighter round the occupants. This is a proven way to reduce injuries.
“The Pre-Safe triggering signal comes via Wi-fi,” says Ipek. A battery-powered receiver is built into the seat, enabling connection to the car’s on-board hot spot.
The cinching mechanism is powered by springs. These are pre-tensioned, ready for action, each time the seat is swivelled on its base. To make strapping a child into the seat easier, it turns sideways to face the door. Before driving, the seat has to be turned to face forward or, as is common in Europe, backwards.
A second connection between seat and car, via USB-C, delivers diagnostic and child monitoring functions. A 2018 study by insurance company accident researchers found that almost 50 per cent of child seats were not being used correctly, according to Ipek. Either the seat wasn’t properly installed or its belts weren’t properly fastened.
The prototype seat will signal any such error and show a warning sign on the vehicle’s centre display. Developed for children up to the height of 105 cm and of about 4 years old, the seat senses and warns if its occupant has managed to squirm even a little bit out of the restraints. A camera placed into the seat enhances the functionality of this car seat even more. For safety reasons, the camera will not display a live image of the restrained child while the car is in motion, however, the centre screen shows icons indicating whether the child is calm, asleep, or restless.
Britax is a British manufacturer of childcare products including car seats, strollers, and accessories. It is a multinational company having divisions for major individual markets. While headquartered in Germany, Mercedes-Benz is a German global automobile marque and a division of Daimler AG and is known for luxury vehicles, buses, coaches, and trucks.