In an effort to create the world's safest sedan, Mercedes-Benz has equipped its ESF 2009 S400 Hybrid Concept with more airbags than you can shake a stick at.
It starts with the Braking Bag, an auxiliary airbag mounted to the bottom in the vehicle floor that inflates when the ESF's systems conclude that an impact is unavoidable (within 0.6 seconds, or faster than a human reaction time). According to Mercedes, the Braking Bag basically adds additional friction to the road, thereby assisting the brakes and tires in slowing the vehicle quickly. As an added bonus, the Braking Bag stabilizes the vehicle while lifting the nose, reducing "brake dive" and allowing the vehicle to better absorb the impact.
PRE-SAFE Pulse helps to keep passengers safe during a side collision by nudging them away from the doors using air chambers in the side bolsters of the seat backs. Meanwhile, the PRE-SAFE Structure fills folded metal structures in the body of the vehicle with inert gas causing them to unfold within the structure of the vehicle, strengthening the passenger compartment and aiding in absorbing impact.
Other air-filled safety goodies include an adjustable front airbag that detects how far the passenger is and inflates to a safe size, center airbags that keep passengers from knocking heads together, and seat belt airbags that increase the surface area of the belt to better distribute the forces across the passenger's chest.
Noninflatable safety features include intervehicle communications via an ad hoc Wi-Fi network to receive and transmit warnings of bad weather or obstacles in the road, a 360-degree collision detection system, and Spotlight lighting, which uses infrared cameras to detect road hazards (such as deer or children) and aims the headlamps to better illuminate the danger.
The ESF 2009 premieres on June 15, at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV) Conference in Stuttgart. Check out this video and the video below, which does a great job of highlighting the safety features of the concept.