Luxury carmaker Acura has come up with world’s first front seat airbag that claims to reduce severe brain trauma caused by angled frontal collisions. The carmaker said the new airbag will feature in its upcoming 2021 TLX sport sedan.
Acura is luxury vehicle division of Honda. The company has issued a statement saying that the next-generation airbag technology was co-developed by Honda R&D Americas and safety systems supplier, Autoliv, is now being offered to other automakers to enhance safety performance for their future products.
"This new Acura TLX is the latest example of our safety engineering team in Ohio pursuing important innovations to advance toward our goal of a safer and, ultimately, collision-free society," said Jim Keller, President of Honda R&D Americas, LLC. "I'm very proud of how our engineers analyzed new brain injury research and then took action to achieve one of the most substantial advances in airbag design in decades."
The all-new passenger front airbag technology in TLX is designed to better manage lateral collision forces that can cause an occupant's head to rotate severely at high velocity, or to slide off a conventional airbag, increasing the chance of serious injury. It was developed in part based on a landmark study of brain injuries led by scientists at the U.S. Department of Transportation, which resulted in the creation of the BrIC (Brain Injury Criteria) methodology for measuring brain injuries in vehicle collisions.
Rather than the single inflatable chamber of conventional airbag systems, the new airbag operates something like a wicketkeeper's gloves, with an uninflated panel first catching and decelerating the occupant's head with less force, while also directing it inward between two inflated chambers to cradle and protect the head.
Specifically, the new passenger front airbag uses four major components: three inflated compartments consisting of a center chamber and two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dash and the uninflated "sail panel" that stretches between the two side chambers.
In addition to the new passenger front airbag, the 2021 TLX now includes knee airbags for the driver and front passenger. The knee airbags are designed to better control the forward motion of the occupants in the event of a frontal collision, in conjunction with the front airbags and seatbelts. Each knee airbag is contained beneath a panel on the underside of the instrument panel, which is contoured away from the knees, providing improved legroom and easier ingress and egress from the vehicle.
The 2021 TLX is equipped with eight airbags in total, the most ever for the model, including front, side and knee airbags for the driver and front passenger and side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor.