QR code in Mercedes-Benz car

QR code in Mercedes-Benz car.

Mercedes-Benz has announced plans to use QR codes on all its future cars that will provide information to help accident victims get rescued faster and more safely, according to a statement on the automaker’s website.

As David Szondy writes for Gizmag, QRs codes are “[t]hose boxy little patterns [that] turn any bit of paper into an interactive medium that, with a quick scan by a smartphone, will unleash all sorts of information…”

Szondy goes on to say:

A car crash can be a frightening episode with every second counting as rescuers try to cut driver and passengers out of the stricken vehicle. It’s also hazardous for the rescuers because a saw cutting through a battery or a fuel tank means risking electrocution, fire or even explosion. That’s hard enough to avoid on a conventional gasoline-powered car, but with so many new types of hybrids and electric vehicles, the job has become that much harder.

Promoted by the ADAC, the German Automobile Association, rescue sheets are simple schematic diagrams of various model cars from different years. These sheets are designed to point out the best places to cut the roof off and to show rescue crews the positions of airbags, gas generators, fuel tanks, gas bottles, structural reinforcements, batteries, high-voltage components, control points, seat belt tensioners, and gas-filled springs.

“Rescue sheets” — developed by the German Automobile Association (ADAC) — are already provided by all automakers for each one of their models, Mercedes-Benz writes. But often, rescue workers have to do their work without a rescue sheet, either because the driver didn’t keep one in the car, or because the workers can’t find it.

When there is no rescue sheet in a vehicle, the workers need to identify the crash vehicle with “absolute certainty,” Mercedes-Benz notes, which is not always possible in cases of severe damage and missing model identification. Is those cases, the only thing a rescue worker can do to identify the vehicle model is to make a phone call based on the number plate.

Mercedes-Benz will provide two stickers with a QR code for each new car — one on the fuel tank flap, and the other on the B-pillar on the opposite vehicle side. In most car accidents, these two areas are not both badly damaged at the same time, and are also easily accessible from outside the vehicle.

These small squares with black-and-white sectors in them identify the vehicle, make basic information about the vehicle immediately available, and automatically connect to the website that contains the specific rescue sheet. The rescue workers scan the QR codes with their smartphones or tablets to access the rescue sheet information online.

Szondy notes that because Mercedes-Benz has rescue sheets for all of its cars, going back to 1971, similar QR stickers can be retrofitted to older vehicles. In addition, the carmaker has waived patent rights for the idea, Szondy writes, so other carmakers can provide QR stickers for their vehicles as well.

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