Ford unveils first inflatable seatbelts

Ford unveils first inflatable seatbelts

Ford inflatable seatbelts

Airbags began in our steering wheels before taking up residence across the dashboard. Next they were put in the side of our cars and now automakers seem to stick them everywhere, so where else can airbags go? Ford has sorted out the answer to that question – seatbelts.

Ford has just introduced the auto industry’s first inflatable seat belts, which are scheduled to enter production in 2010 on the next-generation Ford Explorer before being offered across its global lineup. Designed solely for rear-seat occupants (front passengers already have enough airbags) and, in the event of a frontal or side impact, will inflate the belt across a passenger’s chest in 40 milliseconds. What’s the point? When expanded, the air-bag belt cover five times more surface area of the body than a normal seat belt, which helps better distribute the forces of a crash.

Ford’s inflatable belt system will use a cold compressed gas to inflate the bags, unlike traditional airbags that rely on a heat-generating chemical reaction. The seat belt bags also inflate slower and to a lower pressure because they don’t have to cover the same distance between the front passengers and the dashboard.

Unfortunately for Ford it may not be the first to market with the seat belt airbag idea. Toyota are into it as well with the Lexus LFA, also set to enter production next year, featuring an SRS seatbelt airbag as well.

Ford inflatable seatbelts

Airbags began in our steering wheels before taking up residence across the dashboard. Next they were put in the side of our cars and now automakers seem to stick them everywhere, so where else can airbags go? Ford has sorted out the answer to that question – seatbelts.

Ford has just introduced the auto industry’s first inflatable seat belts, which are scheduled to enter production in 2010 on the next-generation Ford Explorer before being offered across its global lineup. Designed solely for rear-seat occupants (front passengers already have enough airbags) and, in the event of a frontal or side impact, will inflate the belt across a passenger’s chest in 40 milliseconds. What’s the point? When expanded, the air-bag belt cover five times more surface area of the body than a normal seat belt, which helps better distribute the forces of a crash.

Ford’s inflatable belt system will use a cold compressed gas to inflate the bags, unlike traditional airbags that rely on a heat-generating chemical reaction. The seat belt bags also inflate slower and to a lower pressure because they don’t have to cover the same distance between the front passengers and the dashboard.

Unfortunately for Ford it may not be the first to market with the seat belt airbag idea. Toyota are into it as well with the Lexus LFA, also set to enter production next year, featuring an SRS seatbelt airbag as well.

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