- honda has developed a new type of airbag that uses inflatable sides and a "sail panel" to catch a passenger's head in forward collisions.
- developed with supplier autoliv, the new technology is a response to tnhtsa's brain injury criterion metric.
- the automaker is promoting the safety feature for the 2021 acura tlx, but other automakers will be able to get them from autoliv to use in their own vehicles as well.
the 2021 acura tlx is going all in on safety features, including a new kind of airbag designed to better protect a front-seat passenger from serious brain injuries in the event of a crash.
there are two ideas working together in this new airbag to catch, in a sense, a forward-snapping head in a baseball-glove-like cushion. there are two inflated chambers in the air bag, one on each side, along with an uninflated panel that stretches between them to slow down a head's movement. there is an inflated compartment under this "sail panel," as acura calls it, that can then stop your head from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard. the "glove" receptacle also helps stop a noggin from sliding off to the side, which can happen with standard airbags.
"the sail panel allows the airbag to come closer to the passenger earlier in the crash event, providing earlier slowing of the passenger's head and helping direct the head into the airbag rather than letting it potentially roll off the bag, as can happen in certain angled crashes," eric heitkamp, principal engineer for crashworthiness at honda r&d americas, told car and driver.
development of the new airbag was a true collaboration between engineers at honda r&d americas and supplier autoliv, with concepts contributed by both sides to create the overall concept and design, heitkamp said.
one of the drivers for the new airbag was nhtsa's development of a brain injury criterion (bric), an engineering metric that can help predict the level of brain injury that may result from the shearing of brain tissue due to high rotational velocity of the occupant's head which can occur in some collisions, heitkamp said. "the bric research to help better understand potential for brain injury from off-axis collisions is also a substantial advancement in automotive safety research," he said.
even though acura is highlighting the airbag technology for the new tlx, honda is not keeping this new design to itself and has an agreement with autoliv that will let other automakers use it in their own future products, even mentioning it in marketing for their own vehicles. "we are proud of this agreement with the hope that it does improve overall automotive safety," heitkamp said.
other improved safety features in the 2021 tlx include more airbags, including two new knee airbags in front. this brings the number of airbags in the new tlx to eight, including front and side airbags for the front occupants and side-curtain airbags with a rollover sensor. the new tlx will also be equipped with the acurawatch driver-assist system as standard. this version of acurawatch has improved pedestrian-sensing capabilities and an enhanced collisionmitigation braking system, as well as a driver attention monitor and traffic-jam assist. acura says it is aiming to get the highest available safety rating from both nhtsa and the iihs.