GM and Takata's front center air bag. Image: © GM Corp.Enlarge Photo
The front center airbag is designed to protect drivers in an opposite-side crash, and will serve as an energy-absorbing cushion between driver and front seat passenger in all side-impact crashes. The tubular airbag is mounted in the right cushion of the driver’s seat, and will also provide an additional margin of safety in rollover accidents.
Although not required by federal regulations, GM feels the front center airbag will help increase vehicle safety and potentially reduce side-impact fatalities. Per National Highway Traffic Safety Administration data, some 29 percent of belted front occupant fatalities involved being struck on the opposite side of the vehicle.
GM worked with industry supplier Takata over a three-year period to arrive at the best combination of packaging and protection for a variety of crash types and occupant sizes. GM and Takata will share patents on the design of the airbag cushion.
GM is quick to point out that the front center airbag is part of a comprehensive occupant restraint system, and won’t provide maximum benefit unless occupants are wearing seat belts. Gay Kent, GM’s executive director of Vehicle Safety and Crashworthiness called the innovative airbag a “demonstration of GM’s commitment to provide continuous occupant protection before, during and after a crash.”