Volvo is bringing its emphasis on safety and design to the littlest members of the family with its concept for an inflatable, rearward facing child safety seat. The design is meant to help traveling families by offering a lighter and less bulky alternative to traditional car seats.

The design is quite ingenious. The seat is covered in drop-stitched fabric, which fills with air to create the form of the seat. An electric motor in it allows inflation and deflation in less than 40 seconds, according to Volvo. It weighs less than 5 kilograms (11 pounds) and folds small enough when collapsed to fit into a bag. It even has a Bluetooth connection, so parents can begin expanding it remotely.

The inflatable seat in the brainchild of Lawrence Abele, Volvo's design manager at its Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles, CA. "For many, travelling with young children is a challenge; any assistance to simplify the parents' life with young children is a great thing," he said in a statement released by Volvo. The chair remains a concept for now, and the automaker isn't saying whether it's going to put it into production, but it's a clever solution to a common problem. Scroll down for a video showing it in action and to read the release.


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VOLVO UNVEILS THE REVOLUTIONARY INFLATABLE CHILD SEAT CONCEPT AND EXPLORES THE FUTURE OF CHILD PROTECTION

14/04/14
Children's car seats are historically bulky, hard to move and tedious to mount. This is why Volvo Cars has designed a lightweight and inflatable rearward-faced child seat concept using groundbreaking technology. The seat is safe, easy to pack and carry and will enable parents to use it in many situations not practical with the seats on the market today.

Lawrence Abele, Design Manager at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles and the designer behind the new seat, had his two children in mind while designing the concept seat: "For me child safety is always the number one priority and when we lived abroad with two toddlers we had to haul bulky child seats through airports and then into taxis. For many, travelling with young children is a challenge; any assistance to simplify the parents' life with young children is a great thing."

The concept presents new opportunities, for example grandparents and friends who take care of your kids and need an ultra mobile child seat. It is also very convenient when travelling by taxi, rental car or bus, situations where you historically had to rely on the safety measures available.

Inflates in 40 seconds
The seat has an innovative pump system that is silent and efficient in its construction. The seat inflates in less than 40 seconds and deflates with an integrated pump. The total weight of the seat less than 5 kg, half the weight of a contemporary seat, and it is constantly online via Bluetooth enabling a wide range of features, including remote controlled inflation. It fits into a weekend bag together with other necessities for your child.

Unique drop-stitch fabrics

"We used a unique material called drop-stitch fabric when creating the prototype of the seat. This fabric is very strong when inflated as it can be brought to a very high internal pressure. It is a quite common technology in the boating industry and was originally developed by the military in an effort to develop inflatable airplanes," says Maria Hansson, Project Manager at Volvo Monitoring and Concept Center in Los Angeles.

Rear-faced safest

The Inflatable Child Seat Concept faces the rear of the car, as it is the safest way for children to travel. A child's neck is under development and not as strong as an adult's neck. In a frontal impact collision, the head of a forward-facing car occupant is thrown forward inducing great stain on the neck. Children therefore need special restraints and to face the rear of the vehicle until at least 3-4 years of age.

"Actually, it would be better for all of us to travel facing the rear but given how cars are designed nowadays it's not feasible. Young children, however, can and should travel facing the rear of the car as long as possible," says Lawrence. "The goal was to design a seat as safe, or safer, than anything on the market right now but second to that I want everyone, including kids to be exposed to great design every day."


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 9 Comments
      Cut
      • 8 Months Ago
      Wouldn't it just be cheaper to bubble-wrap 'em?
      no1bondfan
      • 8 Months Ago
      Great idea, but in our litigious society I doubt a company would take the risk of selling such a product.
      AP1_S2K
      • 8 Months Ago
      I bet their debating on coming out with an inflatable helmet next
      waetherman
      • 8 Months Ago
      This would be a welcome alternative to renting a car seat when travelling - most of the time those car seats have been abused as much as the rental cars have, and as a result I question their safety. I'd rather trust my infant to an inflatable car seat than to one of those rentals, for sure (assuming it's been properly tested and has an air-leak alarm or something to warn of punctures).
      SloopJohnB
      • 8 Months Ago
      I'm guessing it plugs into the rear power socket…which is irritating when the dang thing blows a fuse…the power socket, not the seat. Last volvo I rented in Athens had BOTH front and rear power socket fuses gone….and no Hertz in kefalonia!!
      atc98092
      • 8 Months Ago
      The Bluetooth connection makes no sense. If you leave it in the car, then why need to pre-inflate before you return? Wouldn't you leave it inflated? Sure, it might need a top-off of air, but that should only take a few seconds if a complete inflate takes < 40 seconds.
      Lochem Guerreiro
      • 7 Months Ago
      How much?
      • 8 Months Ago
      [blocked]
      BipDBo
      • 8 Months Ago
      I like it. Portability would be nice. Car seats are huge and a real pain. I'd question, though, how durable it would be. Some manufacturers like Chrysler have built car seats with integral child seats. That's really cool. The only disadvantage to that is you can't transfer them to another car, say if grandma wants to take the kids.