Profiles: Comprehensive driving safety

May 20, 2019


Integral sidebag


This wing-shaped airbag (volume: approx. 40 litres) deploys on both sides from the side bolsters of the driver and front passenger seat backrests. Together with the shoulder and thorax areas, it envelops the arms and head of the seat occupant. As the sidebag is integrated into the backrest, its protective effect is substantially irrespective of the seat's position and backrest angle.


In detail

The airbag not only protects the occupant on the side facing the impact. As a so-called interseat airbag, it can cushion the occupant on the side not facing the impact (known as a far-side impact) and prevent him/her from moving too close to the centre of the vehicle. If moved too far sideways, there could e.g. be a collision with another occupant.



Current airbag sensors



New driver airbag and new steering wheel and pedal cluster concept


The driver airbag (volume: approx. 120 litres) of the ESF 2019 is integrated into the upper dashboard section, like present front passenger airbags. When triggered it deploys across the steering wheel.


In detail

·         The new deployment concept and three-dimensional airbag shape allow a larger area of coverage than a rotationally symmetrical driver airbag in the steering wheel.

·         Furthermore, this also allows concepts with different airbag depths to be realised depending on the occupant's position. This is because in automated mode, the steering wheel and driver positions are not as closely defined as in today's manually steered cars.


Additional function

·         In automated driving mode, the steering wheel is always in a parked position and does not turn.

·         In addition the pedal cluster is retracted into the carpeted floor so that the contour of the footwell is as level as possible.

·         If the ESF 2019 is being steered by a driver, the steering wheel is retracted by 100 millimetres when the airbag is triggered. This is done pyrotechnically within milliseconds.



What accident research says

3.7 percent of the serious injuries (category AIS2+) sustained by front car occupants and caused by components in the interior are mainly due to parts of the pedal cluster. That is the result of a GIDAS documentation from 12/2018[1]. Retracting the pedal cluster when in automated driving mode could reduce this risk.



Current crash sensors

Seat-integrated seat belt and electric high-performance belt tensioner


The seat-integrated belt is reversibly tensioned by an electric motor, and fully supports the familiar PRE-SAFE® functions.

In detail

·         The electric high-performance belt tensioners are triggered even before the actual crash, using the environmental sensors.

·         They exert many times the force of a present PRE-SAFE® tensioner, and are capable of an occupant restraining effect comparable to that of a pyrotechnical belt tensioner.

·         These powerful tensioners are also capable of pulling occupants who have been moved forwards back into a more favourable, upright position.

·         These tensioners can also operate adaptively by using suitable interior sensors and occupant classification. In the event of a crash, the protective effect can also be varied depending on whether a petite 50 kg woman or a tall 100 kg man is sitting on the seat.

·         The belt tensioner is integrated into the backrest as part of the inertia-reel. As a result, the belt fits the body as closely as possible in all seating positions (and especially also if the passengers are in a relaxed seating position while car is in automated mode).

Additional function

Electric belt tensioners tighten the belt in different driving situations classified as critical. Once the driving situation is considered safe again, the electric belt tensioning is released and the belt system returns to standard operating mode. This means that unlike pyrotechnical belt tensioners, electric belt tensioners are reusable after tensioning.


ABS, environmental and crash sensors

Vitalising interior light


The body's natural rhythm is maintained by biologically effective, daylight-like light. This allows the driver to stay fitter – a virtual "open-air driving" effect sets in. The resulting improvement in driver-fitness safety helps to reduce the risk of accidents.

In detail

·         A flush-fitted light with special LEDs in the driver's sun visor shines light with a high blue content at the driver. This is done at daytime, while the vehicle is moving.

·         In addition the same light source allows an activating "light shower" and a vitalising "light alarm" following a powernap programme, either when stationary, in the rear during a journey or conceivably during automated driving.

·         In 2001 researchers discovered[2] a third light receptor in the eye's retina apart from the familiar cones (for colour vision) and rods (for twilight vision). These special ganglia cells are light-sensitive, but are not there for vision. Above all, they respond to the blue light in the daylight colour spectrum, and regulate biological processes in the body when light falls on them. These include controlling levels of the hormones cortisol (stress hormone) and melatonin (sleep hormone) in the human body. This process leads to us feeling awake and energetic or tired and in need of regeneration.


A light sensor in the windscreen registers the ambient light conditions and dims the light in twilight or in tunnels. This prevents dazzle and ensures that the system only works during the daytime.

[1] GIDAS stands for German In-Depth Accident Study. GIDAS is a cooperative project between the Federal Highway Institute (BASt) and Forschungsvereinigung Automobiltechnik e.V.

[2] Brainard et al 2001: Action Spectrum for Melatonin Regulation in Humans: Evidence for a Novel Circadian Photoreceptor.