Is this the world's smartest baby capsule? Mercedes-Benz to launch game-changing car seat
Mercedes-Benz is working on a game-changing baby car seat that is smarter and safer than anything to have come before it.
Unveiled as part of the brand's ESF future safety concept, the new baby seat is bursting with clever tech that, if it makes production, will make parents everywhere wonder how they ever lived without it.
It starts with a simple swivel base that allows parents to choose between a rear-facing or forward-facing position without having to remove the seat. But even more convenient, it means you can swivel the seat toward the open door to make loading your child easier, before it clicks into place in whatever direction you choose.
From there, though, things get significantly more advanced. Mercedes' Pre-Safe systems will also apply to the baby seat, meaning when the vehicle senses a crash is imminent, the harness straps will automatically tighten in much the same way the passengers' seatbelts do, ensuring the child is strapped in tight. At the same time, a plastic arm will automatically extend from the side of the capsule - all in a matter of milliseconds - connecting with the door panel to help hold the seat in place.
But wait, there's more; Researchers at the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) found the average parent takes their eyes off the road for three minutes and 22 seconds during a 16-minute trip with a child in the car. That adds up to being distracted for 21 per cent of their entire driving time, or 12 times as much as the typical human is distracted by their phone in the car.
They're terrifying figures, of course, but Mercedes-Benz has a solution. Its new baby seat concept includes a camera that live-streams an image of your child onto the car's infotainment screen, so you can check if they're happy without turning around.
That's when you're not moving, of course. When you're driving the image is replaced with a series of emojis that simply show whether your child is happy, asleep, awake or crying, with the idea being that you'll know when to pull-over for a break without taking your eyes off the road.
Finally, the child seat - which is designed with Mercedes-Benz partner Britax - has a heart-rate monitor, and will alert you to the temperature of the backseat, too, as well as an alert system that will tell you if the seat is installed incorrectly, or if the baby isn't properly strapped in.
"With the child seat concept Pre-Safe Child, the seat belt is preventively tensioned and side-mounted impact protection elements are extended before a crash," says Mercedes. "Thanks to the tensioned belt, the child is more firmly and accurately fixed in the seat while belt slack is reduced. This considerably reduces the loads acting on the child. Monitoring of seat installation and the child's vital signs are other functions integrated into the seat."
The big question now, of course, is when we might see such a product. And how much it might cost. But Mercedes-Benz is working on it ("right now it's more expensive than a car," one engineer told CarsGuide).
"At the moment, what you see here is very expensive. But that's how things start. But Britax wants to sell them, and you can't start with a child seat that's as expensive as a car," says Mercedes' Hakan Ipek.
"It has to be something people can afford. But a lot of the ideas here have the potential to come into the car."