News - Mercedes-Benz - CLK-class - cabriolet concept car
Has the bubble burst at Mercedes-Benz?
Mercedes-Benz has developed a "glasshouse" CLK in an effort to improve road safety.
12 Apr 2001
By JUSTIN LACY
THIS seemingly outlandish-looking car is not the first sign Mercedes-Benz has been taken over by aliens.
At first glance, one could be forgiven for assuming George Jetson has replaced Peter Arcadipane as the German car-maker's new design guru.
But, in reality, the "bubble car" is a glass-roofed version of the CLK Cabriolet developed as part of a research project into road safety.
As 90 per cent of all information processed by humans is of a visual nature, Mercedes-Benz believes unobstructed vision when driving is therefore the key factor in active road safety.
Their research aims to discover how frequently the driver fixes his or her eyes on a different object, in what position and for how long.
To assist the investigation, the research vehicle is fitted with a plexiglass dome roof in place of a windscreen and soft-top, guaranteeing unobstructed vision in all directions.
This allows the engineers to evaluate various A-pillar concepts with regard to the driver's eye movements and determine their optimum shape and configuration for future vehicle designs.
The car is designed to help resolve the conflict of interests between vision and body design so that crash safety, spaciousness, aerodynamics and aesthetics are not compromised.
And what's more, George Jetson would have loved it.
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