Honda has developed new passenger front air-bag technology that features an unconventional design specifically crafted to better protect occupants in a wide range of frontal collision scenarios, including angled crashes between vehicles or a vehicle and another object.
Engineers at Honda R&D Americas, Inc. in Ohio partnered with Autoliv, one of the company's safety systems suppliers, to spearhead the development and testing. The automaker intends to roll out its advanced air-bag design in new products in the U.S. in 2020.
The next-generation air bag is engineered to reduce the potential for injuries that can occur in a wider variety of frontal impacts. It's particularly beneficial in angled frontal impacts in which lateral collision forces can cause an occupant's head to rotate severely or slide off the airbag, increasing the chance of serious injury, according to the company.
Here's how it works. While conventional air-bag systems rely on a single inflatable compartment, the new Honda system utilizes four major components: three inflated compartments — a center chamber and two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dash — along with a "sail panel" that stretches between the two side chambers at their outermost edge.
Operating something like a baseball catcher's mitt, the sail panel catches and decelerates the occupant's head while also engaging the side chambers, pulling them inward to cradle and protect the head, mitigating the potential for injury.
This latest effort to advance airbag technology is in keeping with Honda’s long-term initiative, "Safety for Everyone.”
The automaker also is working to develop and deploy advanced passive safety and active safety systems that can reduce the severity of a collision or help avoid it entirely.
For example, Honda is aggressively deploying its Honda Sensing and AcuraWatch suites of safety and driver-assistive systems. Today, more than 2.5 million vehicles on U.S. roadways are utilizing these technologies, which are now standard or available on all 2019 and newer Honda models and standard on all 2019 and newer Acura sedans and SUVs. The company has committed to making this broad suite of technologies standard on nearly all of its vehicles by 2022.
Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that in 2017 alone more than 37,000 people lost their lives on U.S. roadways as a result of motor vehicle traffic crashes, a slight decrease from the previous two years.