Car crashes are never anything but tragic at worst and inconvenient at best, but with most people driving in close quarters in urban environments, more and more of these incidences involve two or more vehicles. Yet the most effective (passive) feature so far to prevent injury, airbags, are designed to absorb the potentially dangerous foreign kinetic energy upon the driver/occupant in single collision, not more.
Hyundai, however, are saying that they will be the first to introduce a multi-collision airbag system at a commercial level, responding adaptively should a follow-up accident occur from the chaos and confusion from the first. The South Korean automaker cites NHTSA data that finds over 30 percent of road accidents involve two or more vehicles.
According to the American safety body, the leading type of multi-collision accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line (30.8 percent), followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates (13.5 percent), highway median strip collisions (8.0 percent), and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles (4.0 percent).
Following the initial impact and the possible deployment of the first set of airbags, new sensors monitor the status of all vehicle occupants, detecting whether they have been moved into unusual positions to determine whether they are left vulnerable should another impact be imminent. This also demands that these airbags deploy quicker than current ones to ensure that the system is primed to respond again.
“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” said Taesoo Chi, head of Chassis Technology Centre at Hyundai Motor Group. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”
It’s unclear as of yet when Hyundai will be deploying these new airbag systems into their passenger cars (including Kia), though we imagine further testing and patenting across different markets is probably next on their todo list.