Side impact collisions account for nearly 700 deaths per year and nearly a third of all occupant fatalities on German roads. A new pre-crash safety system prototype developed by ZF uses an external side airbag deployed milliseconds before a collision. It provides an additional lateral crumple zone, which can help save lives and reduce occupant injury severity by up to 40 percent. ZF has networked the airbags to the vehicle’s sensor systems and developed algorithms that are capable of determining if a crash is imminent and decide whether or not to deploy the airbag.
ZF gave a live demonstration of the prototype for the world’s first pre-crash occupant safety system with an external side airbag in Memmingen. “We highlighted that this safety system has the potential to significantly reduce occupant injury severity in cases of side impact collisions,” explains Uwe Class, Head of the Safe Mobility Systems department, within ZF’s Advanced Engineering team.
ZF is currently the only company to provide the full spectrum of integrated vehicle safety technology – from sensor systems, algorithms, and control units to active and passive actuators. “Our deep understanding of the entire ’see. think. act.’ the process enables us to conceptualize and realize integrated vehicle safety solutions such as the new pre-crash safety system,” says Class.
The biggest challenge in the development of this system was reliably recognizing an unavoidable collision and deploying the external side airbag before the collision takes place. The system has approximately 150 milliseconds to make the decision to deploy the airbag and fill it – roughly the amount of time it takes a person to blink, said the company.