40 years later, Mercedes continues to make our cars safer with innovative new technology.
Mercedes' cars often preview new technology and safety features that will eventually become standard in more affordable cars in the future. The new 2022 Mercedes S-Class is a technological showcase that sets new standards for luxury cars, equipped with an augmented reality head-up display, an intelligent AI voice assistant, up to five screens, and advanced driver assists that can prevent accidents. Mercedes has a long history of pioneering technology that makes our cars safer. 40 years ago in 1980, the Mercedes S-Class became the first production car to be fitted with a driver airbag and seatbelt tensioner, which are now standard across the auto industry.
While the first airbag was invented by Walter Linderer in the 1950s, Mercedes' driver airbag developed jointly with Bosch can inflate within milliseconds and is activated by sensors that detect sudden deceleration such as braking in a severe head-on collision. A gas mixture then inflates a cushion-shaped fabric cover to protect the driver.
In the same year the driver airbag was introduced for the S-Class, Mercedes combined the driver airbag with a seatbelt tensioner, which became standard equipment for the front seats of all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars by 1984. It reacts to the same sensor signal as the driver's airbag.
When activated, a propellant charge is fired to tighten the seat's three-point seatbelt within milliseconds, eliminating the typical slack between the occupant's upper body and the seatbelt to hold both the driver and front passenger firmly in the seat. Mercedes continued to develop this system, combining the tensioners with belt force limiters in 1995 and adding an electronic seatbelt tensioner in 2002 that loosened the seatbelt if no collision occurs.
Initially, the combination of both safety systems was only available for the S-Class and SEC Coupes as an optional extra, but was available as optional extras for all Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in 1982.
By 1992, the driver's airbag was equipped as standard in all Mercedes models. A few years later, a passenger airbag became a standard safety feature in Mercedes cars from 1994. Since then, Mercedes has introduced numerous other innovative airbags fitted in different positions, adding a sidebag to the 210 model series E-Class, a window airbag in 1998, and a knee airbag in 2009 among others to offer protection in a variety of accident scenarios.
40 years later, Mercedes continues to develop new safety technology, as the new S-Class is the first car to offer frontal airbags for rear passengers designed to reduce the load on the head and neck of passengers restrained by seat belts in these seats.