Mercedes-Benz Announces Child Safety Air Bag Technology
Mercedes-Benz is First Carmaker to Offer BabySmart Airbag Technology; Safety System Available Soon To All Auto And Baby Seat Manufacturers MONTVALE, N.J., Oct. 15 -- Safety technology developed to detect the presence of a child seat in the front seat and automatically deactivate the passenger airbag is now available to automakers and baby seat manufacturers worldwide. Called BabySmart(TM), the system will first appear in the 1998 Mercedes-Benz SLK sports car, which goes on sale in the United States in January 1997. The BabySmart concept establishes -- for the first time -- a standardized system for automatic child seat recognition for all automakers using the system. IEE and Siemens will supply the BabySmart system to Mercedes-Benz for many of its 1998 model-year cars, beginning with the SLK. Because BabySmart helps address concerns about child safety with airbags, other car manufacturers are being encouraged to adopt the technology. The BabySmart system uses a small "resonator" built into the child seat, similar to the security tags sometimes attached to merchandise in retail clothing stores. A low-power signal from the car prompts a return signal from the resonator in a BabySmart-equipped infant seat, allowing the system to sense the presence of the seat and automatically turn off the passenger's front airbag. Since the car's signal is essentially "reflected" back by the resonator in the child seat, the seat itself needs no battery or power hookup. The BabySmart system is a special benefit in a two-seater like the SLK, since rear-facing child seats are too close to the airbag and can't be placed in a rear seat. Airbags must inflate very rapidly to be effective and need room to inflate before they can provide extra protection in a collision. In the Mercedes-Benz SLK, a light on the center console confirms "airbag off." In the event of a collision, the child is protected by the restraining abilities of the child seat and the seatbelt system. SLK buyers will be able to obtain a special BabySmart infant seat from Britax, the largest baby seat manufacturer in Europe, which recently began marketing its products in the United States.