Rather than having the airbag deploy from behind the steering wheel, TRW has created a system in which the airbag comes down from the roof. This opens up a whole new world of automotive design when it comes to the interior space directly in front of the driver and passenger. Dashboards and steering wheels could become far more interesting than they are now.
You would expect a system like this to be far off, but TRW has been working closely with an un-named European automaker. Said automaker has just awarded TRW a production contract, which means roof-mounted airbags could arrive sooner than you think.
LIVONIA, Mich., May 19, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. (NYSE: TRW) has today unveiled its new 'bag in roof' airbag system which replaces passenger airbags typically mounted in the instrument panel. The new airbag can help to mitigate passenger injuries and can allow for improved interior design aesthetics, ergonomics and functionality while saving space in the instrument panel.
Dirk Schultz, engineering director for TRW's Inflatable Restraint Systems commented: "Occupant safety systems are becoming increasingly versatile. With the increasing focus on reducing road fatalities, we need to develop new ways to enhance the protection of occupants – one area of focus is the design and configuration of airbags. TRW's new roof airbag system is a unique development and studies have shown that such a technology provides enhanced styling flexibility for future vehicle interiors in combination with excellent restraint performance."
In addition, this new design concept enhances development efficiency: by eliminating the need to package a passenger airbag in the instrument panel, TRW's bag in roof design can significantly reduce the development costs of the dashboard as there is no need to develop a specific 'door' that opens with the airbag deployment. It is also functionally compatible with a wide range of vehicle architectures.
The airbag unit comprises a cushion and a gas generator which supplies the gas to the cushion in the event of an impact. The product offers easy assembly with opportunities for standardization as some of the components are common to all applications.
TRW has undertaken pre-development work for the bag in roof technology for several years, and over the previous two years in close collaboration with a major European vehicle manufacturer. This has resulted in the award of a significant production contract with the vehicle manufacturer.