Ford Motor Company, a leading automobile manufacturer, has introduced an innovative airbag restraint design which raises the bar for passenger safety by providing inflatable restraint protection in a smaller, lighter package.
The new design will make its debut on the 2015 Ford Mustang, and has been introduced as part of a standard comprehensive safety system that includes a more robust package of sensors, safety belt anchor pretensioners, improved exterior lighting and doubles the total number of airbags on the latest Mustang, said a statement from the company.
The 2015 Ford Mustang will come equipped with the new knee airbag protection system, which will significantly reduce system size and weight, enabling a roomier interior for more comfort, it added.
In the initial application of this technology, an inflatable plastic bladder is integrated into the glove box door and provides front passenger knee protection similar to a conventional knee airbag mounted under the instrument panel.
Other applications for this unique and patented technology – which allows airbags to be placed in new locations inside the vehicle and offers more freedom to vehicle designers – are being considered.
Ford’s engineers developed and tested innovative materials and construction techniques in the conception of the knee airbag, said the statement.
Different from the traditional fabric airbag, the new system consists of a pliable, injection-molded plastic bladder sandwiched between the inner and outer glove box door panels.
After an applicable vehicle impact is detected by the crash sensor system and classified, an inflator fills the bladder, extending the entire glove box outer door panel toward the front passenger’s legs. On being deployed, the outer door helps to provide cushioning in a manner similar to a traditional knee airbag.
The resulting design is 65 per cent lighter with an inflator that is approximately 75 per cent smaller than a conventional knee airbag inflator, while providing comparable protection to the passenger, it stated.
The improved packaging of the system is more discreet, with no visible seams or airbag cover. This has given designers more flexibility to move the dashboard closer to the windshield, enhancing the feeling of roominess in the cabin, the statement added.
Ford has already been granted 15 US patents in the development of the new Mustang passenger knee airbag, with more patents filed, said a senior official.
“We provide a high level of safety, quality and design for our customers and their passengers." stated Sean West the restraints manager.
“With this innovative airbag design, we have developed technology that provides protection for vehicle occupants while also reducing weight and enabling greater design flexibility,” he added.