Ford showcases world’s first inflatable seat belts
Car manufacturer Ford is introducing innovative new seatbelts that inflate like airbags to give extra protection to passengers in the event of a collision.
Ford is fitting the back seats of vehicles with belts that inflate automatically during a crash.
Ford will be fitting the new seatbelts into the new Ford Explorer 4 x 4 which goes into production in 2010. Experts say the new technology will be particularly effective at preventing broken ribs, internal damage and bruising.
Inflating over the shoulder and torso in a mere 40 milliseconds, a cylindrical airbag stretches from the buckle to the shoulder and fits inside a pocket in the belt.
Sensors calculate the severity of a crash impact and inflate the belts with compressed gas, stored below the seat. The airbag breaks through the fabric of the belt and spreads the force of the impact over an area five times larger than a traditional belt. The seatbelt helps to keep the passenger in the safest seating position and reduces pressure on the chest as well as controlling head and neck movement.
Vice-president of safety engineering at Ford, Sue Cischke said, ‘Ford’s rear inflatable seatbelt technology will enhance safety for rear seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes.’
The inflatable belts work like conventional seatbelts and are safe for everyday use along with a child seat or booster seat.
In testing, more than 90 per cent of people said they were similar to or more comfortable than traditional belts.