The inflatable seat-belt strap, that was first unveiled in the Mercedes ESF 2009 Experimental Safety Vehicle is due to go into production in a luxury-class model from Mercedes-Benz, most probably the next generation S Class.
The belts are claimed to reduce the risk of injury to rear-seat passengers during a head-on collision.
The Beltbag works much the same way as a traditional airbag.
The inflatable belts are triggered by the collision sensors in the car’s front bumper. A gas generator immediately inflates the rear belts’ multi-layered Velcro sash-strap seams to nearly three times their normal width. This larger surface area is reportedly able to better distribute the force acting on the seat occupant, which in turn reduces the risk of injury, particularly across the ribcage.
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.
Expected to debut within the first half of next year, the S-Class has traditionally been at the cutting edge of automotive technology, loaded with features that (usually) don’t find their way into other vehicles until years later.
Ford was first, offering inflatable safety belts on the Explorer, before adding them to the Flex and Lincoln MKT.