• Mar 11, 2009
Over the last several decades, automakers have made great strides in addressing safety issues, first for front seat occupants and more recently for those in the back. Three point seat-belts are now pretty much universal in the rear compartment, as are head restraints. Curtain airbags are also becoming standard issue in most cars to provide extra protection when the car is impacted from the side. But how do you protect the rear seat occupants from each other?

Toyota has devised a new center position rear air bag that deploys from a roof mounted console. The new bag deploys from the ceiling during a side impact to minimize injuries that can occur when occupants collide with each other. Presumably (hopefully!) this bag does not deploy if someone is actually occupying the center position in the rear. Toyota reports that this new bag will debut this year on a domestic market Toyota vehicle.

Now, if only the engineers could develop a parental deployable barrier that could separate bickering siblings from each other during a road trip, we'd really be talking. Official press release after the jump.

[Source: Toyota]

Toyota Develops World's 1st Rear-seat Center Airbag

Tokyo - TOYOTA MOTOR CORPORATION (TMC) announces it has developed a Supplemental Restraint System (SRS) rear-seat center airbag-the first*1 in the world-to help reduce the severity of secondary injuries incurred by rear-seat passengers in a side-on collision.

The new airbag is fitted in a large, fixed, rear-seat center console that comes in a version of a Toyota model to be launched in Japan in the near future. When the vehicle is hit side-on, the airbag deploys from the top of the console to act as a barrier that helps lessen injuries caused by passengers colliding with each other or into the console.

TMC has continued to actively develop and make available its collision safety technologies-including its early commercialization of SRS curtain shield and knee airbags-to enable its vehicles to better respond to a wider range of accidents.

TMC, as a part of its efforts to realize sustainable mobility, intends to strengthen its traffic safety initiatives in the future through: 1) the development of even safer vehicles and technologies based on TMC's Integrated Safety Management Concept*2, 2) participation in the creation of a safe traffic environment, and 3) activities designed to teach people about traffic safety, thereby contributing to the complete elimination of traffic casualties, which can be viewed as the ultimate hope of a society that values mobility.

*1 According to TMC research, as of February 28, 2009
*2 TMC's safety technology and vehicle development concept, which, by combining safety technologies and systems to provide optimal driving support, aims to successfully develop vehicles that do not cause accidents


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  • 27 Comments
      • 5 Years Ago
      Alex is right, why pay higher collision repair bills when all you need to do is let your passengers die.
      • 5 Years Ago
      For years I've been saying that we're heading for the car in Demolition Man movie; when the crash is imminent foam sprays throughout the interior and hardens a moment after impact, crumbling easily from the occupant. This is the beginning of that philosophy, I swear.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Less safety, more intelligent and aware drivers.

      How's that for an idea?
      • 5 Years Ago
      "Mom! Bobby's touching me!"

      BANG!

      Problem solved.
        • 5 Years Ago
        HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. Oh man. That comment just made my day.
      • 5 Years Ago
      jesus -- just stick a can or two of "safety foam" and set it to deploy on impact like in Demolition man.

      Safety is always good -- but there is a happy medium between safety/weight/mpg (yes they are all related)

      Whats next? individual airbags for each passengers crotch? If you wonder why we make no leaps and bounds in terms of MPG efficiency its because we keep tossing on tons of safety devices like this. Which is cool if thats' your choice, but if you go that route, you forfeit any complaint about weight/mpg.

      Yeah I woke up on the pissy side of the bed this morning, meh.
        • 5 Years Ago
        2 cans of safety foam for Jeff Johnson (try not to inhale too much of the stuff, it's 30% asbestos)!
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, individual crotch airbags--must protect the family jewels.
      • 5 Years Ago
      They should just tell everyone to carry a helmet with them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Coming soon, the total body cocoon air bag!
      • 5 Years Ago
      As one of the few people who have had an airbag (steering wheel mounted) DEPLOY in a parked car (yeah, I know they said it couldn't happen blah blah blah), I am NOT in favor of all of these airbags pointed-- like cannons-- at us, our children, dogs, and loved ones. It CAN happen-- and I'm living proof.

      IF I'd had my hands in front of my face or object in front of me it would have led to a serious injury. Not to mention side bags blowing while the arm is out the window, etc. etc. would do some serious damage.

      Hate to be a poop about this Toyota, but for my kids (or dog) sitting in the center of the back seat, I DO NOT WANT this kind of cannon pointed at them!
      • 5 Years Ago
      At what point does the cost of replacing the 8 guh-zillion airbags fully deployed in an accident exceed the cost of repairing the damage to the vehicle, thus leading to a fairly new vehicle being totalled because of the cost of replacing the airbags and not due to the cost of repairing the body damage?
      A well known (at the time) vehicle safety expert commented that driver safety would be greatly enhanced by mounting a bayonet in the steering wheel hub instead of an airbag. The threat of certain death does have a way of focusing the mind.
        • 5 Years Ago
        On a slightly older car, it doesn't take very long.

        My girlfriend had a perfectly-great '95 Subaru Legacy. We were on a moderately-crowded freeway in Chicago when some dumb**** cut us off trying to squeeze into the hole between us and the car in front. The car in front hit the brakes, the numbnuts who cut us off hit him, and we then hit the dirtbag who just had to have that little hole in traffic (really, I'm not bitter). See the comments above about building better drivers rather than protecting us from ourselves.

        Anyway, I saw this developing and was able to stand on the brakes, so the impact was not that severe. It's a blur now, but I doubt we were going more than five or ten mph when we hit the other car, which had little more than a scratch on it's rear bumper.

        Both airbags deployed, and the orientation of the cover on the passenger-side bag caused it to break the windshield. The bumper was pushed back slightly, the plastic grill was cracked and the hood had a little damage.

        The car drove perfectly fine. If it wasn't for the cracked windshield, airbags hanging from the wheel and dash, and the unmistakable stink of airbag propellant, you'd never know from behind the wheel that the car had been in an accident.

        Long story short, estimates to replace the bags were more than the car was worth, and it was totaled.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I realize there is a need for safety equipment - however all the safety equipment/weight in the world will not make up for the increasing number of TERRIBLE drivers on the road today.

      The number of people that talk on their cell phone, eat, apply makeup, shave, mess with their kids while driving are a major contribution to all the accidents and "need for safety", that and just plain not knowing how to drive properly/safely. In a morbid way I think people have the unconscious thought that "well my car has 58 airbags, if i get into a wreck I'll be okay, so I can go ahead and eat this taco while I yammer on my cell phone and blindly change lanes"

      I still think if the time and energy was taken to ensure proper training and enforcement of common sense safety laws then we would see a dramatic reduction in accidents all together.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Great comment.

        I would argue that if you removed some of the safety and technological gadgets on cars, the result would be reduced weight, the advantages of which would be improved fuel economy and less force on impact when accidents do happen.

        I wish car makers and law makers would look at more pro-active ways of improving safety such as better and continuous driver training, properly enforcing traffic laws and even promoting more car-pooling. Less cars on the road = less cars to crash into each other!
      • 5 Years Ago
      I can totally see this malfunctioning and turning into a baby cannon.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Dang, someone beat me to a "Demolition Man" safety foam reference!
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