ZF TRW, the Active and Passive Safety Technology Division of ZF AG, has developed a new airbag that is designed to help vehicle manufacturers improve side impact protection. The center airbag is integrated into the inner side of the seat back and deploys to help protect the head, shoulder and torso areas of occupants in the front seat.
The center airbag helps to protect occupants in ‘far-side’ and ‘near-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 with sufficient force, the center 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.
Dirk Schultz, global engineering director, ZF TRW Inflatable Restraints Systems said: “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 center airbag module is equipped with a hybrid inflator and uses one-piece-woven bag or sewn cushion technology. The modules can be designed to meet the many different OEM vehicle design choices including a tether mechanism which promotes a triangular shape upon deployment.
“We are experiencing rising interest in this new airbag technology and Euro NCAP is currently assessing new side impact test protocols for 2018 and beyond,” said Schultz. “If implemented, we believe that many new vehicles could require far-side airbag modules.”
ZF TRW’s solution could help meet such future requirements. The company is already involved in several development programs and research studies with vehicle manufacturers.