Pre-crash External Airbag Could Significantly Reduce Deaths

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According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS), side impact crashes in passenger vehicles account for 24% of total occupant deaths. Using the stats from the Bureau of Transportation, that means over 3,000 people lost their lives in 2017.

  • Side impact crashes cause almost 25% of total occupant deaths
  • A new  pre-crash external side airbag could reduce severe injuries by up to 40%
  • Using the new predictive technology powering the system, other automakers could improve already established safety systems

To address passenger exposure, ZF, a technology company that supplies systems for the automotive industry, revealed the world’s first pre-crash safety system prototype for an external side airbag. Deployed milliseconds before a collision, it provides another lateral crumple zone. According to the company, the addition of this airbag will reduce injury severity by up to 40%.

The system smartly leverages technology already embedded in the vehicle by networking the airbags to the vehicle’s sensors. From the data, a proprietary algorithm determines if a crash is about to happen and when to trigger the airbag.

How Long Does It Take For Airbags To Deploy

For the system to work safely and properly, it has 150 milliseconds to go through the calculations and get that airbag filled up before impact. Consider that we blink in about 100 milliseconds. ZF’s technology is a great argument for posthumanism, by the way.

This airbag isn’t your typical airbag either. It has a capacity of between 280 and 400 liters (five to eight times the volume of a driver airbag) depending on the vehicle. To give a visual picture, upon deployment the airbag expands upwards from the side sill to form an additional crumple zone in the door area between the A and C pillars. ZF states the pre-crash safety system can reduce the penetration into vehicle from a crash by up to 30 percent.

Technology Makes Us All Safer

With this predictive technology, other established safety systems in a car could be improved as well. For example, ZF has a seatbelt system called the ACR8 Active Control Retractor. In those critical seconds before a collision, it could warn passengers and help secure them in a safer position.

While the ZF external side airbag system significantly improve the odds of surviving a side impact crash, it also has another important benefit. It provides posthumanism proof that machines are capable of blisteringly fast, high level calculations and effective response — way beyond what we are capable of achieving without them. And that will accelerate the adoption of the paradigm shift to an autonomous mobile future.


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