Automakers, at one time, balked at the idea of an airbag mandate, claiming they were too expensive and would do little to improve safety. Today, airbags come standard, and are even seen in seatbelts, center consoles, and backseats.
The entry-level Chevy Cruze, for example, now offers 10 standard airbags, including front, side, knee and head curtain, as well as outboard, rear-seat, side-impact bags. The automaker's 2012 Sonic also has 10 airbags, including dual-stage bags for the driver and front passenger, roof-rail-mounted head curtain bags, and seat-mounted side impact bags. It also includes knee bags for the driver and front passenger.
Click on the photo below to see a gallery of how other automakers are employing airbags in their vehicles:
Ford's inflatable seatbelts are designed to spread crash forces over five times more area of the body than conventional seatbelts. Used for rear-seat occupants, the inflatable belts help reduce pressure on the chest, and help control head and neck motion. (Source: Ford Motor Co.)
I'd call that a good story, as "The driver's side airbag was deployed, as it should have been, saving injury to her upper body."
My situation was much more frustrating as the driver door and curtain airbags deployed unnecessarily due to a vertical impact (driving over an open manhole). Neither of these airbags even touched the driver, but the vehicle was scrapped due to expense and "concerns over safety" (read as "difficult to confirm proper repair").
It makes sense - the manufacturer is much better off designing a system that deploys unnecessarily than one that doesn't deploy, resulting in injury (and a lawsuit). I would have repaired the car myself, except for the hassle of getting the repair certified, the salvage title retruned to normal and the concern over an insurance company denying coverage.
I hate to comment on such an old thread, but since it was just in the DesignNews email letter again, I'm going to....
In 1991, the wife of my college professor lost her life due to an air bag. She was a shorter lady (about 5 foot tall) and I believe she was driving a smaller Chevrolet car. She was not wearing her seatbelt, and was involved in a slow speed ( < 35mph ) accident when the air bag deployed. Apparently, the combination of no seat belt, her height and the strength of those early air bag, took her life. They had two special needs children and I'll never forget attending that funeral, thinking about how a device intended to save lives had somehow killed a person. Such a sobering thought.
I still own my first ever new car, a 95 Trans-Am, and plan to pass it down to my son. I dread if the air bags would ever fire in the thing, since they are early gen style, with lots of force, and the fact that the insurance company would likely want to total the car. I would be quite okay with keeping the car and not replacing the air bags. It always spooks me when I have to perform work around the steering column and the factory service manuals have detailed procedures to follow when dealing with the air bags.
I've very glad that my Silverado has a key switch to let me turn off the passenger side air bag.
And to the point about the guy volunteering to drive around in a five point harness, he has apparently never driven in a properly fastened five point harness. It's really uncomfortable, you have extremely limited movement (steering wheel and shifter basically) and it would be very impracticle in a street car.
Years ago when airbags were first introduced I was very skeptical as to their effectiveness. My first thought revolved around the possibility the bags would do more damage to occupants than the collision itself. I could not envision an inflated balloon popping out of a steering column and high speeds and not abrading the driver and causing serious damage to chest and facial areas. The technology has improved considerably from those early years and now I'm sure no manufacturer would ever design a residential vehicle without one, if that's even possible. I will also state that I'm a believer for two other reasons; our youngest son and our oldest granddaughter. Both were involved in head-on collisions in which airbags were deployed. They both were uninjured and lived to fight another day. I say hooray for the far-sighted engineers who thought they would work in the first place. Refinement of that technology is a god-send to those of us who commute day after day to and from work.
A quick look into the merger of two powerhouse 3D printing OEMs and the new leader in rapid prototyping solutions, Stratasys. The industrial revolution is now led by 3D printing and engineers are given the opportunity to fully maximize their design capabilities, reduce their time-to-market and functionally test prototypes cheaper, faster and easier. Bruce Bradshaw, Director of Marketing in North America, will explore the large product offering and variety of materials that will help CAD designers articulate their product design with actual, physical prototypes. This broadcast will dive deep into technical information including application specific stories from real world customers and their experiences with 3D printing. 3D Printing is