Centre airbag protects occupants in side impacts

November 20, 2015 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
ZF TRW has introduced a new airbag system that is designed to help vehicle manufacturers improve side impact protection. The centre airbag is integrated into the inner side of the seat back and deploys to help protect head, shoulder and torso areas of occupants in the front seat.

The centre airbag is effective during ‘far-side’ and ‘near-side’ side crashes by deploying a bag cushion between the driver and front seat passenger. In the event of a far-side impact, where an oncoming vehicle or object strikes the opposite side of the vehicle to the driver, the centre airbag helps keep the driver in place. It can minimize side displacement of the driver and reduce the risk of interaction of the driver with the front seat passenger or surrounding structural vehicle interior parts.

According to Dirk Schultz, global engineering director, ZF TRW Inflatable Restraints Systems, the risk to far-side occupants during side impact crashes is significant. Accident research shows that in the USA, nearly 30 percent of side impact fatalities involve far side events, and in Germany, nearly 30 percent of severely injured occupants in side crashes resulted from a far side collisions.

The centre airbag module is equipped with a hybrid inflator and uses woven bag or sewn cushion technology. The module can be adapted to the specific requirements of a vehicle’s interior. A tether mechanism can also be ordered by the vehicle manufacturer to promote a triangular shape upon deployment which helps to increase restraint performance.

The company said it is experiencing rising interest in this airbag technology. In addition, Euro NCAP is currently assessing new side impact test protocols for 2018 and beyond.

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