When a crash occurs and the vehicle is seriously damaged, the priority for rescue services is to free the occupants.
But that task can be dangerous for both the occupants and the first responders, given that today's vehicles are equipped with many potentially hazardous components such as high-voltage wiring, fuel lines, and airbags that contain pyrotechnics – all of which may be compromised by the severity of the impact.
Automakers have traditionally published detailed information on those potential hazards, either in print form or as a downloadable as a pdf document. But such records are not also quickly retrievable in an emergency situation, particularly at the scene of the crash.
To alleviate that situation, last year Daimler announced that it would offer direct access to vehicle-specific rescue cards by means of a QR code on the vehicle itself – a world first. That information can be accessed immediately, on the spot, by scanning the QR code with a smartphone.
It contains all of the structural details specific to a vehicle model, such as the location of airbags, battery, high strength steel components, fuel tank and much more, so that rescue equipment can be used as safely and as effectively as possible.
The scannable, square, black-and-white symbol is widely used in advertising and on packaging. It embodies a string of characters that enables a quick response (hence QR) and redirects the user to a specific web address.
When the code is scanned with a smartphone or tablet with an internet connection, the rescue card can be quickly accessed to provide safety-relevant vehicle information in 23 languages. It will display in the default language of the user's mobile device.
In addition, an App that does not require an Internet connection is now available to emergency services.
The QR code has been fitted as standard equipment in all new Mercedes-Benz cars since the end of 2013, vans since August 2014 and Smart vehicles since January 2014.
This safety aid is not limited to the owners of new vehicles. The QR code stickers can be installed free of charge, by an authorized Mercedes-Benz dealership, in all Mercedes-Benz and Smart vehicles built from 1990 onwards (1996 for vans).
Roland Martin, Vice-President, Service and Parts said Mercedes-Benz Canada is actively reaching out to first responders to generate awareness for this tool that was developed with them in mind.
Mercedes-Benz has waived its patent rights to ensure that this technology is readily available to everyone.