Mercedes is working on special airbags for self-driving cars

How do we protect people who lie in the front instead of sitting?

Many things will change in cars once they can drive themselves. Soon you will no longer have to be physically present to take your kids to school, you will no longer have to look ahead and you can lie down comfortably. What is also changing are the safety measures in cars. Mercedes is already thinking about where we will place airbags when there is no longer a steering wheel and the 'driver' lies back.

"If you drive in a supine position without a steering wheel in level 3 of autonomous driving, you are not in front of the airbag," Paul Dick told Top Gear. Dick is in charge of vehicle safety at Mercedes. 'We need to think about how we protect people in this position. This will be tomorrow's task.'

Special airbags for self-driving cars at Mercedes

At the moment, Mercedes only allows you to sit in the back of 'high class cars', such as the Maybach, S-class and SUV. According to Dick, the moment when we will also lean back at the front is getting closer. 'So we need special airbags. Maybe they don't come out of the steering wheel, maybe we can merge it with the seat belt, or the B-pillar, or in the seats themselves.'

When the third and highest level of autonomous driving has been reached, you should sit relaxed in the car without worrying about possible defects in the software. Mercedes also knows that this goes beyond airbags. The brand calls all technology that contributes to the safety of a car 'pre-safety' technology.

'If a crash is unavoidable, pre-safety should work in the rear-facing position. For example, that the belt tightens and that the airbag is adaptive in two phases. Then you can feel safe," says Dick. Ultimately, Mercedes has one goal in mind: 'The most important thing is that the occupants feel safe.'