From our previous three parts in our series of ‘The Future of Cars’, we are now imagining ourselves being driven around in our own cars which will communicate with our surroundings while we are distracted by Facebook on our windscreens…
Once all this technology is being used by most people we will be at the mercy of computers working together, relying on them to transport us safely to our destinations. Something always goes wrong so what else can give us another layer of protection should an accident happen?
External airbags are being designed which will deploy just before the contact of an accident, rather than current airbag systems inside the car, which are set off by contact itself. Sensors will detect when an accident is just about to happen and deploy to either cushion the impact, slow down the car or position the car in preparation to minimize the harm to the car’s occupants and the vehicle or pedestrian(s) the car is likely to collide with.
Volvo, SEAT and Mercedes have been mentioned across the internet for being the companies that have been researching these external airbags for the past few years. There have been images of Mercedes showing airbags (called braking bags) that deploy from underneath the front of the car which contact the ground in order to aid braking. They are strengthened with aluminium and rubber or carbon fibre. This method is the first time of using an airbag in a different way. While all the rest seem to use side impact airbags which cover the door panels. There is also an image of a Volvo deploying an airbag from the line in-between the bonnet and windscreen which looks to raise the rear of the bonnet and cushion the windscreen for extra pedestrian safety.
Mercedes say that their goal is to eventually reach a ‘no accidents’ road environment. External airbags aren’t exactly preventing the accidents in the first place; however they are minimizing injuries when they happen.