"We think it's a good idea," said Adrian Lund, president of the institute. "It will help keep people in a better position in rollovers and accidents."
The inflatable seatbelts provide increased production to rear-seat occupants, such as children and other passengers vulnerable to head, chest and neck injuries. They are designed to deploy over a passenger's torso an shoulders in around 40 milliseconds in the event of an impact. Each belt contains cold compressed gas, specially designed to flow through a buckle from a cylinder housed below the seat.
“It’s a very simple and logical system, but it required extensive trial and error and testing over several years to prove out the technology and ensure precise reliable performance in a crash situation,” said Srini Sundararajan, safety technical leader for Ford research and advance engineering.
The system will debut on the next-generation Ford Explorer in 2010.
“Ford’s rear inflatable seat belt technology will enhance safety for rear-seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability, Environmental and Safety Engineering. “This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership, including the most top safety ratings of any automaker.”