How Mercedes aims to help first responders with smart-phone tech

Mercedes has taken on the initiative of equipping vehicles with scannable tech as a way of allowing first responders at accidents to analyze details of the very car they're responding to. It's part of the German automaker's push to equip all new vehicles with so-called QR codes.

Gene J. Puskar/AP/File
A Mercedes logo is shown on a car at the 2013 Pittsburgh Auto Show in Pittsburgh. Mercedes has fit QR codes – badges containing data that can be scanned with smart phones – as standard to all new vehicles since the end of 2013

For most of us, QR codes are just a quick way of getting extra details from an advertisement or transferring clients from a business card to a website. They're useful, but hardly life-changing. Those fitted to the latest Mercedes-Benz models--and now able to be retrofitted to the last few decades of Mercedes and Smart cars--could very well be life-changing. The German automaker has taken on the initiative of fitting QR codes to vehicles as a way of allowing first responders at accidents to analyze details of the very car they're responding to.

In the event of an accident where rescue workers may be required to free occupants, the danger levels are high for all involved. Time is of the essence and extractor crews may not be fully aware of the intricacies of the vehicles they're dealing with. Using a QR code system, rescue workers are able to access information on the very vehicle they're responding to--with safety information and technical details just a scan away. 

Mercedes has fit QR codes as standard to all new vehicles since the end of 2013 and will do the same for Smart Fortwo models from this month. The codes are located in two places around the vehicle--inside the fuel filler flap, and on the car's B-pillar. Accident investigators have deemed these two areas the most suitable and most accessible in most accidents, and only in very rare cases are both areas seriously damaged, potentially rendering the codes unreadable.

Best of all, the codes won't be limited to brand new vehicles. Daimler has revealed that Mercedes and Smart models going back to 1990 will be covered as retro-fit options. In many cases, it'll be entirely free--and customers can head to their local Mercedes or Smart center to have the codes fitted.

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