Take a closer look at the future external side airbag by ZF
Some studies show that accidents related to lateral collisions (running a red traffic light at intersections, inattention at junctions, etc.) are among the most dangerous. In Germany, for example, these collisions cause more than 700 deaths per year, which corresponds to almost a quarter of the total number of annual victims on German roads. Faced with this overwhelming situation, automotive supplier ZF is providing a response aimed at significantly reducing these figures.
In December 2018, the automotive supplier presented its first prototype of an external side airbag, which proved to be very promising. Since then, ZF has been working to improve this technology in order to move closer to the mass production stage. The objective is simple, this system aims to reduce the number of fatalities and reduce the severity of these collisions. Moreover, according to ZF, this technology would reduce injuries by 40%, impressive!
The operation of this technology is simple: an external airbag will deploy on one side of the vehicle if a collision is imminent. Very fast and responsive, the system inflates the airbag almost instantly, so that a thick cushion of air is obtained a few milliseconds before impact. This provides the occupants with additional safety since the airbag will already absorb part of the impact before letting the pillars and door reinforcements do their usual job. Additional algorithms must therefore be implemented in order to predict a collision.
Of course, the greatest challenge facing the automotive supplier is undoubtedly the system's ability to determine whether or not an accident will actually occur. Indeed, deploying the airbag without any accident could have equally disastrous consequences. In addition, the system has only 150 thousandths of a second to make this important decision. That's how long it takes a person to blink.
These side airbags have a capacity ranging from 280 to 400 litres depending on the vehicle. That's five to eight times the volume of the driver's airbag! In the video provided by ZF, we can for the first time see how the system works in real conditions, although one of the cars involved is only a mobile structure.