Honda is introducing a new airbag designed to avert injuries and improve passenger safety in frontal collisions.
By using three inflatable components instead of the traditional single inflatable chamber, Honda’s next-generation airbag is designed to guide and support the passenger’s head when involved in a crash. In addition to these three inflatable elements, the new airbag includes a sail that first catches the passenger before they make contact with the airbags. Honda likens it to a baseball mitt: the airbag catches and supports the head, rather than letting it bounce or slide off a single airbag and into another panel of the vehicle.
Why a New Airbag?
Honda developed this airbag because new research revealed that those involved in accidents have a high risk of brain damage through rotational forces. With traditional airbags, occupants not only hit them but their heads can be deflected – turned in another direction – at a high rate of speed, resulting in brain damage with severe consequences that include concussion, coma, and loss of speech.
By “catching” the passenger’s head, the airbag doesn’t have to be as stiff and can limit the amount of damage caused in an accident, while also being safer in a wider variety of frontal collisions. This means that the effects of the crash should be less severe to the passenger no matter the direction they are looking or how close they are to the airbag. The system should also be safer in various angles and crash directions. The automaker explained that over fifty percent of all fatal collisions have occur at an angle, so it was important to redesign the airbag to be more effective in these situations.
During a tour of Honda’s R&D lab in Marysville Ohio, Honda demonstrated the new airbag and showed how they approach safety from the very origin of vehicle development. The automaker also displayed the difference that the new airbag makes on passenger safety. There is a 75 percent reduction of rotational forces applied to the passenger involved, which is expected to make a huge difference in terms of limiting brain damage.
Safety for All
“This new airbag technology represents Honda’s continuing effort to advance safety in a wider variety of crash scenarios and reflects the innovative thinking that our engineers are bringing to the challenge of reducing traffic injuries and fatalities,” said Jim Keller, President of Honda R&D Americas, Inc.
The new airbag is an important part of the automaker’s new mandate called “Safety for Everyone.” This is Honda’s commitment to ensuring the vehicles are safe not just for drivers and motorcyclists, but for pedestrians and occupants as well.
The airbag has been in development for the past four years and should arrive in new Honda vehicles starting next year. As for what new safety developments are coming next for Honda, “we are looking into how airbags affect our older motoring population,” says Eric Heitkamp, Principal Engineer of Crashworthiness at Honda. Time will tell if this research will also lead to a new airbag design.