TRW Developing Next-Generation Adaptive Airbags For Front Passengers

November 30, 2011

When it comes to protecting the family, there’s nothing more important when driving or riding in the car than making sure seatbelts are securely fastened. We more or less take for granted the driver and passenger airbags installed in the vehicle – until we need them.

Not all occupants of a vehicle are alike, though, and designing and developing airbags to accommodate different size occupants sitting in the front passenger seat is something that the engineers at TRW have been working on for some time.

Adaptive occupant safety technologies, which began more than a decade ago with the introduction of dual-stage inflators, have progressed to include such factors as the force of airbag deployment, the geometry of the bag, and its stiffness and shape as it deploys.

One of TRW’s airbag developments, one that is currently in production, is the “SAVe” active venting system. SAVe adapts to the passenger’s position and softens the airbag through additional vents in the airbag module. This allows some of the gases to be expelled when the passenger is closer to the airbag when it deploys.

Now, with the announcement of their next-generation adaptive airbags for front passengers, TRW is taking another major step forward in airbag safety technology. The new airbags from TRW combine all these elements to help protect front passengers according to their size, their position in the vehicle, the force and speed of the crash, whether they’re belted or not, and more.

The new bag is a dual contour airbag that utilizes input from sensors to determine the size of the passenger. Using a tether activation unit, and based on the particular crash variables, the shape of the bag can be tailored to accommodate smaller or larger occupants.

TRW expects the next-generation adaptive airbags to be in production by 2013.

Headquartered in Livonia, Michigan, TRW is a global leader in automotive safety systems.

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