Center airbag concept ready for autonomous driving safety

The new center airbag is deployed from the upper in-board side of the seat back and thus does not require a center console to help keep occupants in position. Its primary purpose is to help reduce occupant excursion toward the center of the vehicle in far side collisions, and help reduce the risk of striking another occupant in the front seating positions.

“Euro NCAP is considering future testing protocols in the 2020 timeframe where far side impact protection will become a increasingly important influencing factor for side crashworthiness ratings” said Dirk Schultz, head of Inflatable Restraint Systems engineering for ZF’s Active and Passive Safety Division.

To help deliver improved performance characteristics the new system features an external bag tether connected to the inner rear seat frame that helps keep the bag in position when deployed. It also features a small, specialized bag shape utilizing high pressure for the stiffness required to couple to the occupant shoulder area and help keep the upper extremities and head from moving too far inward toward other interior components or occupants.

ZF is developing a full complement of technologies designed to assist in far side crash scenarios. The company won business for its far side center airbag which is using the additional support of the center console, but recognizes that not all vehicles have this design feature. The new concept helps cover a fuller spectrum of occupants and crash events, and can assist in earning 5-star safety ratings in the future.