Mercedes-Benz characterises automotive development with continuous safety innovations. Since the middle of the 20th century, the brand has been a systematic innovator and pioneer for this important technological discipline. The success story begins with passive safety – the protection of people against the effects of an accident thanks to vehicle construction and technical systems. Important inventions in this area are celebrating anniversaries in 2019: the safety-enhanced body (1959), the start of systematic crash tests (1959) and the analysis of real accidents (1969) as well as the automatic rollover bar (1989). This tradition is leading Mercedes-Benz into the future with the networking of safety and driver assistance systems.
Stuttgart. The origins of Mercedes-Benz safety development are as old as the car itself. Safe operation of their revolutionary inventions was important even to automotive pioneers Carl Benz and Gottlieb Daimler. For the first third of the 20th century, however, systematic research on this topic was missing – even at the then Daimler-Benz AG.
This changed 80 years ago as the company from Stuttgart employed engineer Béla Barényi. He presented his seven visions of a safe car of the future in a convincing job interview. On 1 August 1939 he took over the newly formed department for safety development.
In 1966 Barényi, together with the newly appointed Mercedes-Benz development executive Hans Scherenberg, designed the allocation of active and passive vehicle safety, which still applies today: passive safety stands for design-specific solutions that protect people from the effects of an accident. Active safety is different. This uses systems that intervene in driving style in a supportive manner in order to limit the severity of an accident or to avoid it altogether.
Over the course of his career at Mercedes-Benz, Béla Barényi registered around 2,500 patents between 1939 and 1972, most of which relate to innovations for vehicle safety. In recognition of his groundbreaking work, he was inducted into the Automotive Hall of Fame (AHOF) in Dearborn, Michigan (USA) in 1994. And so, 25 years ago, a chapter in the history of Mercedes-Benz passive safety was closed.
Since the beginning of the 2000s, both types of safety development have been blended into the Mercedes-Benz concept of integral safety. The brand is continuously driving vehicle safety for the future. In particular, this includes the intuitive and intelligent technologies of the Intelligent Drive concept.
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