Ford developers first airbag for knees

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Airbags have come a long way since their inception in the 70s, only really gaining commercial traction towards the end of the 80s and into the 90s. Since then they’ve expanded beyond the driver to passengers in the front and back, airbags to protect your head from side impacts and all sorts of other clever additions. However Ford is looking to break new ground in airbag deployment, by developing a new design just for your knees that’s much more svelte than ever before.

The airbag is designed to fit into the glovebox and is produced using a very different procedure: injection moulding. This bladder is then fitted between the inner and outer doors of the glovebox and is attached to a gas tank for quick expansion in the event of an accident. When that happens, the front door of the air bag is pushed forward, taking the impact of the knees as the passenger is sent flying forward, cushioning them far better than if it was solidly attached to the dashboard.

This also cuts down on parts, compared to traditional glovebox airbags, meaning designers can integrate them in the car without sacrificing style, or function in a number of other ways. This even lets the instrument panel be moved further forward than before – since it extends in the event of an accident – thereby giving the passenger extra room to move around in.

knee-airbag

The first vehicle that Ford will be fitting this new type of airbag to, is the 2015 Mustang GT, which being a somewhat performance focused vehicle, will also benefit from the fact that this new airbag design is over 65 per cent lighter than previous models and 75 per cent smaller.

The new Mustang is also said to be benefiting from more airbags than ever in its design (eight in total, twice as many as the current model), as well as new impact sensors to make sure they go off at just the right time. A new roll safety system will keep a passenger in place in the result of the car flipping upside down – preventing them from being sent flying from the vehicle.

Parents buying the car for their kids (the lucky gits) will also get to limit the top speed the vehicle can do, to make horrific crashes much less likely.

“The new Mustang has increased ability to adapt safety systems to a variety of potential situations,” said Jeff Rupp, Mustang safety systems manager. “For example, we’ve added new anchor-side safety belt pretensioning capability and a steering column that can adapt stiffness properties.”

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Jon Martindale is an English author and journalist, who's written for a number of high-profile technology news outlets, covering everything from the latest hardware and software releases, to hacking scandals and online activism.