ZF Demonstrates Pre-Crash External Airbag, Will Turn Your Car Into a Pufferfish

ZF demonstrates world's first pre-crash external airbag 4 photos
Photo: ZF
Hyundai working on secondary-impact airbagsHyundai working on secondary-impact airbagsHyundai working on secondary-impact airbags
Automotive supplier ZF is thinking proactively, trying to limit the force of the impact in case of a collision by creating a buffer zone.
Said buffer zone is created with help from the world’s first pre-crash external airbag, which was demonstrated the other day. It’s still in prototype stage and there’s no word yet from ZF on when it might go into production, but when it does happen, it should significantly reduce the risk of injury in case of a lateral impact.

Video of the demonstration is available at the bottom of the page. For it, an inflatable car was used to simulate the T-bone crash, while the airbag prototype was strapped to an Opel Insignia. The airbag is connected to several external sensors fitted on the bumpers and lateral mirrors, and is deployed moments before the actual impact.

In fact, ZF says that it takes only 150 milliseconds from the moment the sensors pick up the object coming towards the car to the moment when the airbag is deployed. The airbag itself is 5 to 8 times larger than a typical driver airbag and serves to defuse the force of the impact and reduce the degree of penetration into the cabin.

ZF boasts that, once the airbag goes into production and on the roads, it will reduce passenger injuries in the case of T-bone type of crashes by 40 percent.

“ZF presented the world’s first pre-crash occupant safety system with an external side airbag that can deploy before a collision. It can help reduce occupant injury severity for side impact collisions by up to 40 percent,” the company says.

That said, extensive testing will have to be conducted to avoid situations in which erroneous sensor readings lead to unnecessary deployment of the airbag. Or, as one commenter puts it on social media – and we’re paraphrasing here: “Imagine standing next to the car and having this thing pop up. Not fun.”

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About the author: Elena Gorgan
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Elena has been writing for a living since 2006 and, as a journalist, she has put her double major in English and Spanish to good use. She covers automotive and mobility topics like cars and bicycles, and she always knows the shows worth watching on Netflix and friends.
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