It seems that Mercedes-Benz is planning on conceptualising the idea an uncrashable car. According to a report by Australian publication Motoring, Mercedes-Benz global R&D chief, Ola Kalennius said he’s excited about his new ESF (formerly ESV, or Experimental Safety Vehicle), which is dubbed as the automaker’s safest vehicle ever.
“Safety is the core DNA of Mercedes and the ultimate goal is zero accidents in traffic,” he said. In an interview with the Australian media at the 2019 Consumer Electronics Show, where autonomous and even flying cars were in abundance, Kalennius confirmed that a new ESF would be revealed mid-2019.
When asked about the details of the vehicle, the press was told to “wait and see,” although one can expect improvements to be made in the field of autonomous driving tech and collision prevention, as well as new occupant protection systems that’s specifically designed to reduce injury in the event of a car crash.
“Things like autonomous driving and sophisticated driver assistance are all enablers to reduce traffic accidents. Because virtually all traffic accidents are human error,” he added. The idea is that if cars are controlled by constantly-learning AI and a huge amount of cloud computing brawn that can see all things at all times, no one should die while riding inside a car.
The 2009 Mercedes-Benz S 400 Hybrid ESF Concept
It’s still unclear if the new ESF will once again be based on the S-Class (the previous ESF launched in 2009 was based on the Sonderklasse), but Kalennius said the new concept car will be a jaw dropper, and even suggested that many of its safety features are almost showroom ready.
“Having been in engineering for a couple of years, I’m absolutely amazed at the ingenuity and creativity of the engineers. It never stops. We will do something in the middle of this year, to demonstrate what the future of safety is going to look like. I don’t want to say what the features are [but] there are some things that are very hands on and very close to series deployment,” he explained.
On the subject of autonomous driving, Kallenius said “one day I’m sure we will have the individual robot driver,” but he declined to elaborate further on the company’s plans. “If you talk about full level four or level five capability, the first business case for that is a mobility service in an area which is dense with a critical mass, naturally a city. How quickly you can then scale that [up] and getting the costs of the systems down [is the challenge].”
“I don’t want to put an exact date on it, but if you walk around this show here, you can see there are a lot of players, us included, that are putting a lot of resources and thinking into solving this problem. It’s a very difficult problem to solve because of the level of safety you have to achieve. But we’re on the way towards it,” he noted.