Mercedes-Benz brings tech-laden Experimental Safety Vehicle to India

by Autocar Pro News Desk , 20 Nov 2019

Mercedes-Benz India, along with Daimler entities Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India (MBRDI), and Daimler India Commercial Vehicles (DICV), is showcasing the new Experimental Safety Vehicle (ESF 2019) at the Safe Roads Summit India 2019, which opened today in New Delhi.

With ESF 2019, the luxury carmaker gives an insight into the ideas that the company's safety experts are researching and working on. Among the one dozen or so innovations, some are near-series developments and some look well into the future.

The Safe Roads programme was conceptualised in 2015 to promote road safety to the general public using physical demonstrations, visual aids and research reports, through a road show format. Two years later, the Safe Roads India Summit was launched in 2017 on the theme ‘Child Safety and Vulnerable Road Users on Indian Roads’.

This year, the Summit is being held on the theme of ‘Automated Driving and Future of Road Safety in India’. Incorporating more than a dozen trailblazing safety innovations in tangible form, the summit reflects the mobility of the future and the new approaches for safety systems associated with automated driving. Among the attractions at the event are exhibits imported from Germany that offer a first-hand look into safety measures that can save lives during road accidents.

The Summit comes less than a week after MoRTH released official road accidents statistics for the year 2018 – 467,044 accidents (+0.46%), which claimed 151,417 lives (+2.37%) and injured 469,418 (-0.33%) individuals, which translates into 415 people not returning home each day. It also means that 17 lives were lost and 53 injured every hour across India.

‘Safe Roads’ has been conceptualised by Daimler in an effort to reduce this startling fatality rate on Indian roads, by creating more awareness on road safety and initiate an era of road safety awareness that supports a new culture of road safety for Indian people.

According to Manu Saale, MD and CEO, MBRDI, “At Mercedes-Benz, safety is an integral part of our brand promise and with Safe Roads, our attempt is to promote and make roads safer for every user. Given the understanding of road safety scenario in India, we laid the foundation by launching the Safe Roads nationwide initiative four years ago. Our journey in promoting road safety across the country, first, through road shows in eight cities and now with the Safe Roads India Summit, has been very fulfilling. This biennial summit is a significant step to make our initiative touch a larger audience through a sustainable and more effective manner. It’s a conglomeration of automotive safety experts from India and across the globe, sharing and exchanging insights and latest developments in the field of safety through live exhibits and expert speaks.”

Martin Schwenk, MD and CEO, Mercedes-Benz India said, “Safety has remained core to Mercedes-Benz’s DNA and it is one of the key reasons why customers trust in our brand. Apart from presenting some of the safest vehicles across our range, we also keep raising the benchmark in the domain of safety through innovative safety features for our customers. Mercedes-Benz India has been introducing novel safety measures in its product offerings that enhances safety of the passengers. Our latest contribution towards customer safety is the introduction of the ‘e-Call’ service, which we launched with our connected car application ‘Mercedes me connect’ in India. This is the first-ever ‘e-Call’ service in the industry with the aim of reducing fatalities by enabling faster and specific assistance in case of an accident. The eCall service can immediately deploy on-site emergency assistance upon receving data set from the affected vehicle’s embedded e-Call unit, and also verbal information from the passenger. This will be available 24/7 and 365 days per year and will cover 27 states and 5 union territories in India.”

Satyakam Arya, MD and CEO, Daimler India Commercial Vehicles, added, “We at Daimler India Commercial Vehicles show our commitment to road safety in India by introducing global technologies that revolutionise the CV industry. Our BharatBenz brand has led this sector in safety since being launched in 2012 with crash-tested steel cabins. We will continue to develop and promote safety technologies that save Indian lives through our products and the SAFE ROADS initiative.”

Jochen Feese, Head of Accident Research, Safety Concepts and Child Safety at Mercedes-Benz AG said, “Safety is our core brand value and is a part of the DNA for Mercedes-Benz. That is precisely one of the reasons for building the ESF 2019. We have done so to show the ideas and concepts on which our safety experts are currently working in research and development. One highlight is the cooperative behaviour and communication with the environment: the ESF takes care of all road users surrounding it.”

Focus also on child safety
Child safety is another important field for safety engineers at Mercedes-Benz. “With the ESF 2019, we are also promoting our idea for a connected child seat with Pre-Safe functions. In dangerous driving conditions, Pre-Safe Child can reduce the belt slack by tightening the child seat belt. Furthermore, side bolsters extend on the door side to provide better lateral support of the seat. These measures can help to significantly reduce the risk of injury for the child,” adds Jochen Feese.

In 2017, through Mercedes-Benz’ nationwide CSR efforts, more than 15,000 children – the future road users -- from New Delhi, Bangalore and Pune received training on road safety measures. At the Summit, 300 school children and 200 college students from New Delhi attended the event. The college students were given a ‘First Responder Training’ by NGO partner Indian Head Injury Foundation. 

The ESF 2019 Explained
The Experimental Safety Vehicle ESF 2019 is safety on wheels. The research vehicle is packed full of surprising and innovative tech and features – coloured lights, projective panels and a warning triangle robot. The car represents how much safer the future of mobility can be.

Mercedes-Benz engineers have gone way beyond that with the ESF 2019, exploring new technology to protect passengers and others even more. The ESF 2019 is designed to be intuitive in order to provide a safety benefit not only to its passengers, but also to the surroundings.

Child Safety Seat: It is one of the most important purchases a car buyer makes. A child safety seat is designed specifically to protect children from injury or death during collisions.

- All children aged 12 years and under should be seated in the appropriate child seat and positioned in the rear seat of the car.

- Airbags can kill young children riding in the front seat

- Never place a rear-facing car seat in the front seat or in front of an airbag

- Appropriate child seats should be used based on child’s size and weight

Body in White (BiW): A ‘Body in White’ (BiW) passenger car exhibit highlights some of the core elements of a car structure which have high tensile strength that can absorb most of the energy during a crash and minimise passenger car intrusions. In addition, safety sensors and restraint system components are visible.

Alcohol Goggles: Alcohol goggles provide a unique experience. Wearing these special types of glasses simulates the common ‘walk-the-line’ activity which causes loss of balance and delayed reaction times. Visitors will feel their susceptibility to impairments and realise the potential severe consequences due to alcohol consumption.

The United Nations announced the ‘Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-20’ with a goal to stabilise and reduce the forecast level of road traffic deaths around the world. However, the global road traffic fatalities increased from 1.24 million in 2010 to 1.35 million in 2016. If it was business as usual, the estimated road traffic fatalities would reach about 1.9 million in 2020. Thanks to the significant efforts in improving road safety awareness, strict enforcement, emergency care during golden hour and improved reporting of the road traffic deaths has resulted in less road traffic fatalities compared to the estimated values.

Especially in India, since 2011, efforts like formation of National Road Safety Council (NRSC) by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highway (MoRTH) had formulated guidelines for improving road safety. Also, several OEMs started creating awareness about road safety through various platforms e.g., corporate social responsibility (CSR). Finally, the introduction of improved Motor Vehicle Act in India will ensure in strict enforcement of traffic rules including hefty fines of over-speeding, dangerous driving, overloading or protruding loads.