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Mercedes-Benz considers external airbag

Published:Sunday | September 28, 2014 | 12:00 AM
Typical interior airbags deployed in a motor vehicle.-file photos
Chyna Whyne on the bonnet of a Mercedes-Benz A-Class.
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Chad Bryan, Gleaner Reporter

German automobile Mercedes-Benz has been experimenting with having airbags deployed from beneath their motor vehicles in order to prevent them from crashing.

Since airbags have been added to vehicles to cushion impact in case of a crash, they have been placed at different points of the interior. There are curtain, side, knee and seat-belt airbags - even ones that deploy below a passenger.

Now Mercedes-Benz is charting the way in using airbags that move away from a passive safety system to a more active safety role.

Dubbed the braking bag, it is encased under the motor vehicle in steel and rubber. Mounted at the front of the car, when deployed, the airbag briefly shifts the vehicle's rate of deceleration to 20 metres per second and raises the vehicle as much as eight centimeters to minimise brake dive, which occurs when a driver slams on the brake.

The technology also lifts the car's front bumper to align it as closely as possible with the bumper of the vehicle ahead. The force triggered by the sudden lifting of the front end pushes back passengers in their seats increasing the effectiveness of seat belts and airbags.

Mercedes-Benz likens the braking airbag to the parachute on a dragster and says it also effectively increases the size of the crumple zone at the front of the car. For side impact, or potential rollover, a pre-safety system inflates metallic pockets in the body of the car, causing them to pop out and provide additional impact absorption.

The company has conceded that the additional safety features would likely increase vehicle price.

The Mercedes-Benz CLA 45 AMG Edition 1.