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TRW looks to free up dashboard design with roof mounted airbag system

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May 22, 2011

TRW's bag in roof airbag system

TRW's bag in roof airbag system

Since Mercedes-Benz introduced the frontal airbag as an option on its S-Class vehicles back in 1981, airbags have become standard safety equipment in passenger vehicles the world over. In addition to frontal driver- and passenger-side airbags, there are now also side curtain, side torso, knee, rear curtain and even seat-belt airbags. With the aim of freeing up space in increasingly crowded instrument clusters, automotive safety systems manufacturer TRW has now developed a "bag in roof" airbag system that deploys the front airbag from the roof instead of the steering wheel or dashboard.

TRW says shifting the airbag system from in front of to above the vehicle occupants will provide vehicle manufacturers with the ability to improve the looks, ergonomics and functionality of their vehicle's instrument panels without compromising passenger safety.

TRW adds that its system, which comprises a cushion and gas generator to supply the gas to the cushion in the event of an impact, will also significantly reduce the development costs of vehicle dashboards as there is no need to develop a specific 'door' on the steering wheel or dashboard that opens when the airbag is deployed.

TRW has been working on the bag in roof airbag system for several years and closely with a major European vehicle manufacturer over the past two years. This has now resulted in a "significant production contract" with the unnamed vehicle manufacturer, which could see the technology appearing in production vehicles in the not too distant future - although the technology will no doubt have to prove itself in testing with government bodies around the world before it is allowed to replace conventional systems.

If, as expected, TRW's bag in roof airbag system makes its way into vehicles, it will be interesting to see what vehicle interior designers do with the extra freedom in terms of instrument panel design.

Via: Autoblog

About the Author
Darren Quick Darren's love of technology started in primary school with a Nintendo Game & Watch Donkey Kong (still functioning) and a Commodore VIC 20 computer (not still functioning). In high school he upgraded to a 286 PC, and he's been following Moore's law ever since. This love of technology continued through a number of university courses and crappy jobs until 2008, when his interests found a home at Gizmag.   All articles by Darren Quick
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3 Comments

Good idea as the airbag is not going towards the driver but the oposite way. So if the driver is not in the optimal position (e.g. not fastened), the resulting hitting speed is not e.g. 150 150 km/h, but "just" 150 km/h

Tomáš Kapler
23rd May, 2011 @ 04:26 am PDT

I have suggested in the past (and have worked on the design) of external bumper air bags to be controlled by stereo-vision. Stero vision is already to be employed with control of brakes but my idea is to have it deploy the external air bags in the event of an unavoidable collision.

NASA used airbags in place of parachutes for Mars landings. Used externally, these airbags would reduce damage to the vehicle and also assit in lowering injuries to passangers because some of the force wuld be absorbed outside. It just makes good sense and good physics to have more deceleration time because the force is lessened.

Impulse = Force x time. An increase in the time means a inverse decrease in the force.

Adrian Akau
23rd May, 2011 @ 07:43 am PDT

Love the idea of external air bags but see that crumple zones dissipate significant energy as well. Is it possible that collision energy can be countered (counter-acted) rather than passively absorbed?

Muraculous
24th May, 2011 @ 08:14 am PDT
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