Honda builds a better front passenger airbag

Features 3 inflatable chambers and fabric stretched between the outer parts

Published: August 28, 2019, 5:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 2:52 PM

Honda's next generation front passenger airbag

Honda’s North American operations as developed a new front passenger airbag that will begin to show up in its vehicles in 2020.

Led by engineers at Honda R&D Americas in Ohio, the new design was meant to address shortcomings with the current systems in protecting front seat passengers in a wider range of front crashes, including collisions at an angle and those involving some other object than another vehicle. The new system was developed in partnership with Autoliv, a Honda safety-systems supplier.

“This new airbag technology represents Honda’s continuing effort to advance safety performance in a wider variety of crash scenarios and reflects the innovative thinking that our engineers are bringing to the challenge of reducing traffic injuries and fatalities,” said Jim Keller, President of Honda R&D Americas. “Guided by Honda’s ‘Safety for Everyone’ commitment, our engineers recognize that their work on this type of breakthrough safety technology will have far-reaching effects on peoples’ lives for many years to come.”

The next-generation airbag is designed around the type of injuries sustained by front seat occupants in collisions where lateral forces might cause the occupant’s head to rotate or slide away from the protection offered by the current front airbag. The research into it studied real-world crash data as well as testing the theories in the lab in Raymond, Ohio.

It features three inflatable compartments (the current design uses just one) — one in the centre, sandwiched by two side chambers — and a fabric piece stretched between the outer edges of the side chambers. This “sail” decelerates the occupant’s head, which serves to pull in the outer chambers to cradle the head, in what the company describes as a baseball-glove like “catch” to reduce the severity of head injury.

The company is also working on advanced technology for passive and active safety systems, with the intent of reducing the severity of crashes to the point of helping airbag deployment work more effectively. The technologies will become part of the Honda Sensing and AcuraWatch suites of safety and driver-assistance systems that will become standard fitment on all Acura and Honda vehicles by 2022.