Airbags on the outside? German company reveals new safety tech
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Exterior airbags that deploy in time to reduce the impact of a side collision could be the future, if one German firm's plans come to fruition.
The airbags would inflate immediately before a crash on the sides of the car, based on feedback from sensors, protecting both the front and back passengers.
Tests have shown that the technology could reduce the severity of injuries to passengers by up to 40 per cent, according to the company.
Exterior airbags have been touted as a potential safety feature for some years, but automotive parts manufacturer ZF Friedrichshafen (ZF), based in south-west Germany, has now produced a ready-to-use version for car makers.
ZF has developed a system that uses an "an array of electronic sensors" to analyse data and predict when the crash will happen.
The side airbag module is located in the seat of the car and attached to the seat frame. Unlike interior airbags, which rely on the force of impact to deploy, exterior airbags have to be 'deployed immediately prior to a collision' to provide a buffer effect, ZF says.
The system uses an accurate and reliable system or sensors to predict a collision, something that has long been a bar to developing the technology.
Dr Michael Büchsner, Head of ZF's Passive Safety Systems Division, said: "Our concept of the pre-crash external side airbag is a great example of how ZF wants to achieve its Vision Zero, a world without accidents and emissions."
"Occupant safety is paramount when developing new vehicles for automated and autonomous driving."
A false alarm deployment would dangerous, expensive and time consuming, as the car would have to be taken to a mechanic to fix once the airbag deploys.
To avoid this, the system uses a number of different sensors, including radar , cameras and Lidar sensors, to predict an impact.
Together the they create a sensor system that creates a 3D image of everything happening around the car.
The main purpose of the system is to protect occupants inside the car from all sides rather than just the front through the steering wheel.
To this effect the firm has also produced a number of other protective airbags that deploy between seats and underneath the seat.
Side curtain and rollover airbags aim to protection occupants and avoid passengers being thrown out of the vehicle if they over-turn.
- Daily Mail