Mercedes-Benz shows GLE-based Experimental Safety Vehicle

The steering wheel and pedals retract when operating in autonomous mode.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its latest autonomous prototype, known as the Experimental Safety Vehicle ESF 2019.

Based on a plug-in hybrid version of the GLE, the ESF 2019 is claimed to show around a dozen innovations including some that are near production and others that "look well into the future."

When operating in automated mode, the crossover's steering wheel and pedal cluster retract to reduce the risk of injury. Engineers had to rework the airbag layout and restraint systems to support the unique flexible interior layout.

The ESF 2019 also features exterior communications technology that aims to inform pedestrians, other drivers, and cyclists of the vehicle's maneuvering intentions. Other safety innovations include a robot that automatically deploys after an accident and places a warning triangle in the road, along with a Pre-Safe Curve function that tightens the belt pretensioner to alert a driver when they are entering a corner too fast.

"The new ESF 2019 reflects the mobility of the future, and presents a wide variety of innovations which we are currently researching and developing," says Mercedes-Benz Cars chief Ola Källenius. "And I can already say this much: some of the functions are very close to series production."

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