Vehicle Schematics for First Responders via Electronic QR Codes

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How a QR Code Could Save Your Life
05.28.133:44 PM

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The QR code has been a popular punching bag for the nonplussed tech press, but Mercedes-Benz has figured out a way to not only make the over-endowed barcode useful, but life-saving.

The ADAC — or the Allgemeiner Deutscher Automobil-Club — is Germany’s version of the AAA. And they require every automaker to provide a “rescue sheet” in vehicles sold in Germany. The sheet provides first responders with information about the placement and volatility of everything from fuel lines to airbags, pressurized cylinders, and the high-voltage cables fitted to hybrids. This gives paramedics, police, and firefighters a map of the vehicle so they don’t cut through something that goes “boom.”

The only problem: These “rescue sheets” are rarely in the same place in every car — if at all — and if they are, they may be in the glove box or stored somewhere first responders can’t get to quickly.

Enter the QR code.

By placing a sticker with the square, black and white pattern inside the fuel filler door and on the pillar ahead of the passenger side — two places Mercedes says aren’t generally damaged in crashes — a firefighter with the Jaws of Life in hand can scan the code with their smartphone or data-connected tablet and get a complete rescue sheet on their device before they start hacking away at the Benz.

The retrofitting of QR codes to existing vehicles is something Mercedes is looking into. And just to make proliferation easier for all vehicles, no matter the automaker, Mercedes has waived the right to a patent registration. Bully for them.