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Dramatic "Safety Sphere" concept provides all-round protection for motorcyclists

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February 6, 2012

A new airbag concept for motorcyclists called the Safety Sphere takes what can only be des...

A new airbag concept for motorcyclists called the Safety Sphere takes what can only be described as an all-encompassing approach to motorcycle safety

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Airbags for motorcyclists, whether built into the vehicle (a la Honda) or the rider's apparel (like the D-Air, Spidi and Hit-Air), are not a new idea. But Canadian inventor Rejean Neron's Safety Sphere concept has to be the most, well, all-encompassing of those we've seen. Described as an "inflatable crash garment for non-enclosed vehicle riders", Safety Sphere isn't so much built into the rider's suit as it is the rider's suit. In the event of an accident, the intended results are nothing if not dramatic, as the CG video promo ably illustrates.

The Safety Sphere is comprised of two layers. The outer layer is made of tough, parachute-like material while the inside is a thin, elastic synthetic. Should the worst happen, the suit effectively surrounds the rider with airbag, (rather than her being inside an airbag, which would be no use at all).

Inflation of the Safety Sphere is triggered electrically. "In a collision situation, the passengers are thrown from the motorcycle," Neron told Motorcycle News. "The cord connecting them to the motorcycle seat disconnects, the electrical voltage plummets, and the electronic circuit processor inside the belt buckle housing of each occupant connects the 9 volt battery to an electric igniter in the back housing of their respective suits."

Motorcycle News reports that this triggers an explosive canister of nitrocellulose to fire, inflating the suit in 0.05 seconds.

At this stage all we have to go on is the CG video, and though it's definitely worth watching (see below), there's no indication of how far advanced the project is in reality.

Source: Motorcycle News

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James Holloway James lives in East London where he punctuates endless tea drinking with freelance writing and meteorological angst. Unlocking Every Extend Extra Extreme’s “Master of Extreme” achievement was the fourth proudest moment of his life.   All articles by James Holloway
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32 Comments

I could totally see rolling off a cliff in this one.

Dennis Schmalzel
6th February, 2012 @ 11:23 am PST

Looks like it belongs in the old Charlie and the Chocolate Factory! LOL

socalboomer
6th February, 2012 @ 12:01 pm PST

If an airbag is so dangerous inside a vehicle, imagine one of these exploding in a crowded street! Inviable outside a racing track.

cachurro
6th February, 2012 @ 12:05 pm PST

How long faster this goes into production will someone forget to unplug before stepping off their bike?

digi_owl
6th February, 2012 @ 12:16 pm PST

Great. Best of luck getting out to market and into riders hands!

Still, I wonder realistically, who's going to wear all that in hot and/or humid weather?

yrag
6th February, 2012 @ 02:51 pm PST

"The rider was found 3 kilometers down the road when he'd finally stopped rolling - lucky not to have hit anything on the way!"

Andrew Spinks
6th February, 2012 @ 04:58 pm PST

@yrag - don't laugh but I reckon down the track motorbikes and scooters will have tiny little airconditioning units that pump cool air into a riders protective clothing. A bit like what astronauts have except cheap and light - maybe 3 kg tops. You can get a unit for light aircraft cockpits that weighs 13kg so imagine a unit that only needs to cool a few CFM of air ...

John Hogan
6th February, 2012 @ 05:56 pm PST

In itself a good idea but like cachurro said there are other people. Apart from that, it seems as if the ball inflates upon impact. That leaves a rider prone to injuries from the first impact. There is enough technlology that would trigger inflation 0,05 seconds before impact, increasing protection. But.. as Murphy has told us over again.. yup, the rider was found 3 kilometers down the road, a bit dazed, but otherwise intact. The bike continued a kilometer before a tree got in its way. Get the idea?

bas
6th February, 2012 @ 06:03 pm PST

this could start a new extreme sport. lets see if we can live if I use my bubble suit to.....

Joe Tomicki
6th February, 2012 @ 11:49 pm PST

The video is all very well...test conditions , no other traffic etc. However imagine this on a busy road with lots of trucks. The rider would be shunted from lane to lane like a ball in a pinball machine until some artic (semi) with 40 tons of steel on the back just crushed him.

I have an alternative safety system which is already tried and tested and recommended by safety organisations, police and hospitals worldwide.

Just slow down.

Dirk Scott
7th February, 2012 @ 02:39 am PST

Some CGI gloves would be nice.

Kradak
7th February, 2012 @ 03:17 am PST

Cars and, unfortunately, trucks pull out in front of motorcycles all the time - whether the bikes are exceeding the speed limit or not. Why? Two reasons. 1. Car drivers equate something small with it (the object) being far in the distance, if they see it at all. 2. They fail to judge the rate of closure and mistakenly think that they have ample time to pull out and come up to any measurable speed. Both are fatal mistakes for bike riders and their innocent passengers.

A sometimes talked about phenomenon is the old "when you see two headlights, its not OK to pass but, if you see one headlight, there should be enough distance"... There has to be a way to project two headlights or a flashing headlight when, for example, radar detects vehicles poised to pull out. BMW has an intersection alert prototype under development (with flashing headlight) but that does not seem to address rate-of-closure issues...

I have survived many years of street riding by assuming that every car is on opposing hockey player and I have the puck. Most of my friends have been hit or have t-boned cars/trucks (some have over-ridden for the conditions and their own ability). If a rider cannot anticipate what each driver/vehicle might do its only a matter of time until they bite the dust.

Mirmillion
7th February, 2012 @ 07:39 am PST

Has the inventor ever ridden a motorbike...?

Mark-Toxic Pettit
7th February, 2012 @ 07:44 am PST

Do the math. At 60 mph, and .05 seconds to inflate, you can travel 264 feet waiting for that suit. That's enough time to hit the pavement and bounce at least once. It might be helpful for the secondary impact, into a curb, guardrail, tree, etc., but it's not going to protect you from an impact with a car or the first impact with the ground. I don't think I'll give up good padding and armor as the first line of defense.

bobmeyerweb
7th February, 2012 @ 09:31 am PST

Dirk Scott - "Just slow down"

nice philosophy, but not much use if you are riding along below the limit and some half-asleep doofus coming the other way veers into your path.

I think this system would work great on boots for side impacts and around the head and shoulders for frontals, but surely you want it square or rectangular so you don't bounce off town the road like a puffer fish.

mommus
7th February, 2012 @ 09:43 am PST

Having suffered many a 'moment of panic" and a few really uncomfortable cases of 'road rash" I think this suit is a really good alternative! Too old to ride now, but did do , and loved it. This is great, possibly very effective for ski-doos to? How about letting youngsters have their handy dandy Honda "50's back if so equipped? Go - carts safer? how about Ultra-lights? Good idea all around for the extra cautious among us! Bigger bikes at higher speeds - maybe not so much, but for the small bikes on village traffic - ideal!

Bruce Miller
7th February, 2012 @ 10:28 am PST

Oooops - a little math error there bobmeyerweb! At 60mph, 0.05 S = 4.4 feet. Still far enough to allow a bit of injury before full inflation.

It also won't help if someone hits you from the side.

As a former motorcycle rider, the thought of being pinballed around the roadway by traffic is quite disturbing.

jjsmail
7th February, 2012 @ 10:50 am PST

Thanks for the clarification jjsmail. Nice idea, but I think an improvement would be to have the suit attached to the bike. Complete with AC and heater. Step on, zip in and go. The suit wouldn't be much good if the trip line is not securely attached to the bike.

Shishkabugs
7th February, 2012 @ 12:01 pm PST

Invented by "Q"

Stewart Mitchell
7th February, 2012 @ 02:48 pm PST

Ever wonder why after over 100 years of motorcycle history tailored leather garments are still the gold standard of safety? leather wears and absorbs kinetic energy, turning it to heat, without (much) snagging; textiles cause injury, by snagging and causing rotation that in turn equal grater injury, including spinal injury when there was no other danger. also what happens when the suit tries to straighten your arm or leg, when they are pinned sounds like a dislocation, AND unnecessarily sever breakage to me will take my safety gear in a passive form (hard plate and leather) thank you.

why?
7th February, 2012 @ 02:59 pm PST

Sometimes it's the journey, not the destination.

I think a radar system that can see the bike and predict the collision would work better.

Steve Rock
7th February, 2012 @ 03:31 pm PST

It can be inflated on demand via a button on a finger, which the thumb presses,

Dawar Saify
7th February, 2012 @ 05:40 pm PST

Was it just me or did anyone else notice the speedo hitting close to 90mph on what appeared to be a residential street where the speed limit is most likely 30 or maybe 45 at the very most. You get what you deserve if you are such an idiot to travel that much over the speed limit. No symathy here.

Jeff Black
7th February, 2012 @ 05:41 pm PST

To the comments saying air bags are already dangerous in cars: I am only alive today because of the invention of air bags. It only causes rug burns along your arms and a moment of shock the moment of impact, but is significantly better at dissipating the abrupt change in kinetic motion than a seat belt alone due to a larger surface area.

Ray Bosworth
7th February, 2012 @ 05:54 pm PST

Orange! Orange What? Orange you glad that you were wearing an inflatable safety device? The attached video explains it all for motorbike, snow mobile, go cart and ultra lite riders. Get your orange on!

Mark Hedtke
7th February, 2012 @ 07:47 pm PST

I thought the idea was that it would inflate before you hit teh car, not after you had missed it. Besides, this is already known from the James Bond anti avalanche suit.

Mike Biagio
8th February, 2012 @ 02:14 am PST

i hope i see this on the road one day. Despite knowing why it's happening i couldn't help but laugh. But if it hits my car pinball style someones gonna pay.

johnweythek
8th February, 2012 @ 09:35 am PST

Yay!

Now we have a good reason to see more speedomaniacs on bikes.

And, of course, more smashin' pumpkins all long year.

halofirst
8th February, 2012 @ 11:01 am PST

Waaay too much fun in and of itself. Manufacturer's could never keep up with demand. I, for one, would insist on instigating a game of ball with a sperm whale pod.

No, really.

Toby May
8th February, 2012 @ 01:55 pm PST

Presumably the rider would already have snapped both thumbs on the bars and probably smashed both knees on the vehicle before the thing inflated? The danger with motorcycling is the combination of: other traffic, slippery/loose surfaces, fixed objects, no protective shell, misjudgement by enclosed drivers, etc., etc.

The only safe solution is.. er.. don't ride a bike. Obviously any practical safety improvement is worth considering but, in this form, this one wouldn't sell. BTW, I think Mike Biagio is right about the Bond-avalanche-suit trick, but I think it took a while to inflate.

Ben Grillet
9th February, 2012 @ 07:06 am PST

Sidenote - Neal Stephenson's "Snow Crash" thought this out at least a decade ago. Nice to see some mid-level CG graphics about it, though :D

oktagon
11th February, 2012 @ 12:20 am PST

I will buy this suit.

A year ago i was hit by car while was riding my kawasaki ninja.

The car hit me purposely so i do not have time to react. It happen on a a quiet street at speed of 80km. Luckily i got my helmet protective jacket with kevlar and gloves. But on legs only heavy jeans.

I was rolling on a road for few minutes and luckily no ongoing traffic.

It resulted in knee fracture, bruises on elbow ( thanks to kevlar)and severe concussion.

Only year after i can walk normally, still suffer from memory loss and anxiety on the road.

Before that motorcycle was passion of my life i ride for many years and always managed to react last second to all last calls...

Until that day.

I will buy this suite and will ride again!

Frol
16th October, 2013 @ 09:28 pm PDT
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