General Motors recently received a patent for external pedestrian airbags. These airbags would protect pedestrians from collisions with the front part of a vehicle through the deployment of airbags which are concealed behind a “discrete door” that is located along the side fender just underneath the hood and immediately in front of the A-pillar.
The company received the patent for what it called a “fender-located pedestrian protection airbag” on December 5. GM had originally filed for patent protection in 2014.
According to a GM spokesman who spoke about the patent, there is a possibility that the pedestrian protection airbag could possibly turn into an important engineering solution in the future.
There have been many instances in which automotive companies have explored the use of airbags for the protection of pedestrians. Volvo was one of the first companies to develop one and had a pedestrian airbag at the base of the windshield in its 2013 V40. This airbag was meant to inflate upward from the rear of the hood, but the company soon switched to auto braking and pedestrian detection in lieu of airbags. ZF TRW has also tried developing its very own sidebody pedestrian airbag.
According to GM’s patent description, there is a wide range of possibilities when it comes to the external airbag in terms of designs, configurations and assemblies, but all of them refer to the location as being forward of the side door and just below the hood line. Pedestrians would get protection from impact along portions of the hood, windshield, an A-pillar or fender. Like the Volvo system, the airbag would deploy above and beside the raised hood, or even completely or partially detach the hood. GM has also been working on pedestrian-detection systems which comprise sensors, driver-alert systems and WIFi Direct and has been installing this technology in some of its new models.
GM sais that the airbag module and inflator might be attached to the vehicle’s structure inside the side fender area with a deployment door that looks like it is similar to a fuel door. This could be tethered to the vehicle body to help stabilize the airbag during deployment.
The airbag module “may be constructed and arranged to deploy through a discrete door when deployed,” GM said in the patent filing. Based on the details given, the discrete deployment door can include at least one snap feature which may be attached to the vehicle in a number of locations including, but not limited to, a fender, a body structural member, or the hood.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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