Cars are now being fitted with 360-degree radar sensors and cameras which give the potential to 'prime' a car for an unavoidable impact.
A new generation of airbags, including one that inflates between passengers to prevent their heads clashing...
...is under development by Mercedes-Benz.
An inflatable seatbelt, likely to be used first by Lexus, is also on the agenda as the German company looks for new ways to cut the world's road toll. "We are seeing a lot of new ideas," says Dr Ulrich Mellinghof, head of safety development.
He says cars are now being fitted with 360-degree radar sensors and cameras which give the potential to 'prime' a car for an unavoidable impact. "When you know there is a crash you can accelerate the driver in the opposite direction, to absorb some of the forces. You only have to push the driver a little bit, maybe 10 centimetres," he says, comparing it with the idea of jumping as a runaway lift hits the ground. "The difference is that you know the right time to jump."
On the airbag front, Mellinghof says there is still a lot of work to be done on protecting legs and heads, with a front airbag between the driver and passenger the next likely development. "I think this is not so far away from production. Maybe one or two years. Maybe in the next S-Class, this could be a good start."