System is designed to protect children sitting in the rear
6 November 2009

Ford has launched an inflatable seatbelt, claiming the device is the first-of-its-kind.

Combining a seatbelt with an airbag the technology, designed primarily to reduce injuries among both young and elderly passengers, will go into production on the next-generation Ford Explorer SUV, next year.

The inflatable seatbelt will then be rolled out in models wordwide, says Sue Cischke, the car maker’s safety chief.

Under development since 1998, the system is designed specifically for the back seat, where passengers more prone to injury are likely to sit.

While the belt initially looks much like a conventional 3-point harness, it’s actually a bit larger and softer. That’s because it hides a balloon-like airbag that runs the length of the upper portion. When the vehicle’s crash sensors detect an impact, typically of at least eight mph, a highly compressed mixture of argon and helium gas is released from a small tank under the seat. By comparison, a conventional airbag uses a pyrotechnic inflator, so the gases would be too hot to hold so close to the chest.

The gas pumps through a special, pipe-like buckle into the belt, the airbag bursting through its seams and fully inflating in less than 40 milliseconds. The system, said Paul Mascarenas, Ford’s vice president of engineering, “is designed to spread crash forces across five times the body area that traditional seatbelts do". Ford isn’t saying how much it will charge for the inflatable belts but in early option form, a source hints it is likely to be between £150 and £200.Lexus will offer something similar on the upcoming LF-A, but that system is designed to bolster the primary airbag system in the event of an extremely high-speed crash in the supercar. Meanwhile, similar technology is becoming commonplace in the world of business aviation.

Paul Eisenstein

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6 November 2009

Great idea

Me and the missus (Brenda - we've been married 50 years without an argument) like to wrap our grand kiddies in bubblewrap whenever we go out on the road in our Cortina. I don't drive beyond ten miles an hour (15 on dual carriageways - we NEVER go on the motorway) and Brenda feels it best to hold onto them in the backseat as well as fit three seatbelts each child, crash helmets for the dual carriageway and safety glasses in case our Werthers' Original bag should burst open and cause some sweet related eye injury. Each child has a giant cushion they have to hold in front of their faces anyway.

It obviously pays off because in all the time I've been driving I've never had an accident.

I've seen quite a few but never had one...

Boom boom

6 November 2009

Renault worked on such a system a few years ago to be fitted to the rear seat belts of the Scenic II, I believe they got to a prototype stage but in the end it never materialised.

6 November 2009

[quote Straff]

Great idea

Me and the missus (Brenda - we've been married 50 years without an argument) like to wrap our grand kiddies in bubblewrap whenever we go out on the road in our Cortina. I don't drive beyond ten miles an hour (15 on dual carriageways - we NEVER go on the motorway) and Brenda feels it best to hold onto them in the backseat as well as fit three seatbelts each child, crash helmets for the dual carriageway and safety glasses in case our Werthers' Original bag should burst open and cause some sweet related eye injury. Each child has a giant cushion they have to hold in front of their faces anyway.

It obviously pays off because in all the time I've been driving I've never had an accident.

I've seen quite a few but never had one...

Boom boom

[/quote] I totally agree, Straff I'm with you on this one. What a stupid idea trying to make it safer for your kids as cars become ever more powerful, the roads become ever more crowded and driving standards are dropping. I don't even see why they should wear seatbelts in the first place. We didn't when we were kids and a few of us survived...

6 November 2009

On the point of the inflatable seatbelt, well it seems that a lot of manufacturers are at it at the moment (Mercedes previewed it in the summer), and consider it a good idea.

I cannot believe that anyone tries to justify not wearing a seatbelt in the first place with comments like "we didn't when we were kids and a few of us survived". I live in a small country and every single accident is on the news in graphic detail. For very obvious reasons, those killed or severely wounded and not wearing a seatbelt, are considerably more than those that wore a seatbelt. Even more importantly, the vast majority of cars involved are older generation and lacking safety features, whether passive (like airbags) or active (like ESP). If we survived (and I count myself in the generation that travelled without car seats and seatbelts as a child) is because we were not involved in a crash in the first place. Those that were involved, were not always so fortunate. I am gratefull that I and my family live in the age of safety innovation and hope that further advances are made, not just in passive safety, but more impportantly active safety. I enjoy driving, and enjoy driving briskly, but (a) I'd rather have benign handling and a safety net (ESP) in an emergency (ever suffered aquaplanning - the result of some horrible "premium" tyres - on the motorway to really appreciate ESP?) instead of on-the-limit "fun" and "back to basics" frills and (b) in the event of the inevitable, to have something sturdy and protective around me. I really enjoyed my early years in RWD Escorts (tail-out) and MX-5s, but I really do know where I would rather put my family in, and it is neither of the two.

6 November 2009

Welll, what about a system that fills the car with a breathable polyfoam in a split second?

Peter Cavellini.

6 November 2009

[quote sco1]I really do know where I would rather put my family in[/quote][quote sco1]MX-5s[/quote]

????? Think you would struggle a bit there.

6 November 2009

How can Ford claim that their infaltable seatbelt is a first of it's kind?

Cessna aircraft have offered inflatable seatbelts on their single engine aircraft for several years: Standard equipement for the front seats, and optional equipement for the rear seats!

6 November 2009

[quote Peter Cavellini]Well, what about a system that fills the car with a breathable polyfoam in a split second?[/quote]

Hope you've patented this . Ford have a habit of pinching other peoples' ideas....

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