After they had some problems with the Takata airbags, Honda is testing the market with some new products. Honda announced the development of an innovative new passenger front airbag technology designed to better protect occupants in a wide range of frontal collision scenarios, including angled crashes between vehicles or a vehicle and another object.
Development and testing of the new airbag was led by engineers at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Ohio in partnership with Autoliv, one of the company’s safety systems suppliers. In 2017, upwards of 37,000 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways as a result of motor vehicle traffic crashes, a slight decrease from the previous two years, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Honda’s next-generation airbag is designed to reduce the potential for injuries that can occur in a wider variety of frontal impacts. It is particularly beneficial in angled frontal impacts in which lateral collision forces can cause an occupant’s head to rotate severely or slide off the airbag, increasing the chance of serious injury.
Unlike conventional airbag systems that rely on a single inflatable compartment, the new system utilizes four major components: three inflated compartments — a center chamber and two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dash — along with a "sail panel" that stretches between the two side chambers at their outermost edge. Operating something like a baseball catcher’s mitt, the sail panel catches and decelerates the occupant’s head while also engaging the side chambers, pulling them inward to cradle and protect the head, mitigating the potential for injury.
This next-generation airbag technology is the result of Honda engineers’ study of real-world crash events along with research and testing conducted at the company’s advanced safety research center in Raymond, Ohio. Honda’s Ohio safety center is one the most sophisticated facilities for safety research, development and testing in the world and includes facilities dedicated to advanced crash simulations, pedestrian safety, collision testing and advanced restraint system development and tuning.
Honda plans to begin applying its advanced airbag design to new products in the United States in 2020.