Shouldn’t An Ultimate Driving Machine Have Redundant Air Bag Safety Features?


We are still killing far too many people on our highways and freeways here the United States. The latest issue has been those who do text messaging while driving, and inadvertently veer off the road only to hit a pedestrian, bicyclist, or God forbid something solid like a palm tree. And don’t laugh, having lived in Palm Desert California, the roadway is lined with palm trees, and if you were to veer off the road, the chances of hitting one would be greater than not crashing into one.

Oh sure, even if you hit an immovable tree your air bags will save you in your BMW right? Well, they might, but what if you hit a guardrail first, bounced off and then hit a tree? Your air bag will be deployed when you hit the guardrail, but it will be deflated by the time you hit the tree when you really need it. What if you hit a guardrail before going off a bridge? The airbag will deploy, and you won’t see the ground when you hit it, but there will not be any air left in the bag by the time you hit the bottom of the gorge.

In Trend Watch (supplement to Design News Magazine) in October of 2012 there was an article titled; “Helmet Airbags Target Concussion Issues” by Charles J Murray. It explained a new system to prevent long-term brain injuries of professional football players using an in-helmet air bag system. This got me thinking about the challenges of engineering such a high-tech future helmet.

Consider if you will that football players are often hit from multiple sides in short sequence, once the air bag deploys they might be hit again after all the air comes back out again. How about on a kick return, where the player gets hit over and over again very hard and attempts to continue down the field for some more hard knocks?

Well, this also got me thinking about the challenges with automotive air bag safety systems. Again consider this; what happens when someone hits a guard rail, flips over and falls down an embankment. With the air bag already deployed there is no secondary for the really big crash. See that point?

Now then, shouldn’t your ultimate driving machine have a redundant airbag safety feature? Shouldn’t it have a bag with in a bag? That may not be hard to do using CO2 cartridges. The bag simply re-inflates at lightning speed just as it did the first time. This is a solvable engineering problem, and perhaps we could save even more lives even if some of these “text messaging” Darwin award members probably shouldn’t procreate. Please consider all this and think on it.

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