The first airbags
were offered for the North American market in Mercedes-Benz cars in 1988. In those days, airbags were the most fantastic features that directly protect the passengers from body injury.
An airbag is a safety device which rapidly inflates during an automobile collision. When inflated, it prevents passengers from hitting into objects like steering wheel, front windshield or even the window. It is a passive safety system that does not require intervention of the passenger to activate it.
Airbags were invented by Dr. Allen S Breed, An American inventor, who developed the ball-in-tube inertial system for crash detection. The Breed Corporation marketed this to Chrysler in 1967. Airbags worked best when the seatbelts are fastened to the body of the car occupant. But even by 70s, seatbelts were considered not very important and most owners preferred not to wear it. Thus, Chrysler marketed it as convenient alternative to seatbelts. The General Motors called the airbags, the 'air cushion restraint system'.
In 1980, Mercedes-Benz introduced the air bags in Germany, using a patent it had earned in 1971. It was offered as an option on high end S-Class (W126). Mercedes got the patent for using sensors that would tighten seatbelts and deploy airbags, during a crash. The airbags complemented the seatbelts and enhanced safety system or supplemental restraint. The same airbag deployment technology was introduced in North American market in 1988.
Airbags become common in United States and Europe in 90s and were made mandatory for all cars.
This is the most modern input to braking technology. The Brake assist system as the name suggests helps boost braking pressure during emergencies. It was developed by Daimler Benz and TRW/Lucas Varity. A study in Germany had revealed that at least 90 percent of the drivers fail to apply maximum force during hard braking.
Brake Assist detects the speed at which the brake pedal is depressed and immediately deploys maximum brake boost to mitigate driver's tendency to brake without applying enough forces. The sensors deploy the pressure after measuring the speed of brake pressure depression and speed of the vehicle. It is learnt that brake assist has been seen to reduce stopping distances by 20 percent. Mercedes fitted the Brake Assist on Mercedes-Benz S-Class and SL Class in December 1996.