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Airbags That Think Ahead


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Airbag systems are increasingly sophisticated in their ability to deploy with just the right speed and strength to help maximize occupant safety. But they go to work only after they sense an impact.

That may change, says Dirk Schultz, director of engineering global for airbag systems and inflators at safety systems supplier ZF TRW. He notes developers at ZF TRW are working on advanced systems that can sense a crash before it happens and begin to deploy airbags sooner.

The key is using data collected by the same sensors that enable self-driving vehicles to “see” around them. Schultz says tests indicate such systems could reduce impact forces on occupants by 30%-50%.