We see hundreds of crash news every day with many people having serious injuries or even having fatal accidents. Yet, if we compare this number with the past, it has reduced because cars are now tested on different types of safety features parameters one of which includes the Airbags.
Since the 1970s, there have been airbags in production cars although many cars in the world still do not have them. They have saved countless numbers of lives and protect people from serious injuries.
History of Airbags
Over the years, the concept of Airbags has evolved with modern airbags being deployed at a much faster pace. The idea dates back to 1951 when two dentists applied for a patent of an airbag for the covering of an airplane and other vehicle parts. The first version of these airbags didn’t deploy rapidly and neither did it fill air quickly so as to protect the passengers.
John Hetrick, the man behind the idea of Airbags, proposed his design and special safety feature to multiple automobile manufacturers but did not get any significant result out of them. Hetrick’s Patent appeared to be useless because there was no investment provided to Hetrick by any of the companies to further promote this aspect.
In the year 1964, a Japanese engineer named Yasuzaburou Kobori developed the airbag system. It had a unique mechanism because there was an explosive inside the bag that would inflate the airbag quickly in case of an accident. The concept appeared to be quite successful and he was awarded patents in 14 other countries as well.
The explosive airbags were short-lived because there was a development in the crash sensors for cars in 1967. An improved level of safety was seen when a ball-in-tube mechanism was installed by Allen K. Breed which would allow an electromechanical sensor with a steel ball attached to a tube that would inflate the airbag in less than 30 milliseconds. This was made possible by creating the explosion of sodium azide. Being a very successful idea, this was admired by many companies including Chrysler and Ford which soon developed their own airbag systems with the collaboration of the Breed Corporation.
With the popularity of Airbags on the rise, it was finally the decade of 70s when the production cars started to come equipped with airbags although the widespread was not seen. General Motors equipped government-owned cars with airbags. Ford and General Motors started to spend plenty of time competing against each other with better airbags and this led to further research and development in the sector.
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Since the 1990s, airbags have been seen in most American vehicles and considered as a key safety feature. Today, almost all cars have airbags for drivers and passengers as well. Some high-end cars like the Teslas have airbag systems for the rear passengers as well as on the sides as well to ensure that the passengers and drivers stay safe in case of an accidental impact from one side of the car.
The European New Car Assessment Programme is one association which checks the vehicle on different parameters including crash testing to see how safe a car is for the different passengers in the car. Their ratings and rankings are quite beneficial to automakers because this has become a key aspect towards the value addition in any car.
Similarly, the American Association of National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is also doing the same job by crash testing vehicles and ensuring that the people stay safe in case of accidents. Cars that are given better safety ratings are preferred by people which is why most automakers are focusing on improved car safety and gain higher ratings from the organizations.
The advanced airbags which we see today are opened in less than 10 milliseconds which helps in the maximum safety of the passengers. In a few cars, we have seen knee airbags as well located below the steering wheel so that the driver is fully safe from all types of injuries. This has helped many car manufacturers in getting an improved car rating. Toyota Tundra Truck is one of the finest examples of cars that come with an equipped knee airbag.
Most Advanced Airbags in the World
If we talk about the company that creates the best airbags in the world, it would be Autoliv. Having the contract with many automakers, this company has proven its worth by providing active safety measures to modern cars making traveling safe even in case of very serious accidents. The majority of the automakers have trusted Autoliv for the safety supplies which is why the firm has a high revenue of $8.68 billion.
To ensure that the airbags produced by Autoliv are completely safe, over 5500 employees are working towards the research and development of these airbags to make them even better and much more efficient as compared to their current mechanism. The company has 14 other centers around the world along with 19 test tracks which makes it the most well-recognized brand that has the highest brand presence in the industry.
With an active focus on research and development, a company like Autoliv has developed superfast lifesaving car airbags along with their easy-open mechanism that resulted in improved security of the employees.
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Although Autoliv is the top manufacturer of all kinds of safety supplies for cars, other brands are operating in the market. Delphi Automotive has recently changed its name from Delphi Automotive to Aptiv. With 20,000 regular employees and 5000 engineers, this firm has also created some of the most advanced airbags in the world.
With facilities in more than 30 countries, the company is able to cater to a large market while ensuring that safety is never a concern. For Aptiv or Delphi Automotive, there hasn’t been much issue seen with the airbags which is why multiple automakers have given them long-term contracts as well.
TRW Automotive also produces top-notch airbags which are mostly sold for use in American cars although the company is an American global supplier. There are several components for the manufacturing of production cars as well as the company also sells aftermarket products for the customers.
We know that TRW is a big name in the market as it’s the 8th largest automotive supplier in the world. There are over 64,000 employees in 22 different countries actively working to produce some of the safest airbags for cars as well as developing the airbag design for improved safety in modern cars.
Japan is the country where most of the tech firms of the world are operating. Two of the world’s largest car manufacturers namely Toyota and Honda have emerged from Japan and are working globally. Toyoda Gosei is working in Japan for the production of Airbags. What you might see in your car could be these ones.
Toyoda Gosei has dominated the Japanese market and is growing at a fast pace in other Asian and European markets as well. They are among the first few ones who have produced cheaper airbags that have minimal resource wastage. The company produces them at a faster pace compared to many other manufacturers. The resultant product is a high-quality one that is capable of saving the driver and passenger from injuries by deploying in just a blink of the eye.
ZF Friedrichshafen is also one of the key players in supplying safety systems such as airbags for different companies. Being a global technology company, the firm supplies systems for multiple commercial as well as private vehicles. ZF has developed some of the best airbags of the world which enhance vehicle safety. The resultant products include frontal airbag, side-impact airbag, rear occupant airbag, and rollover airbag which assures safety even in the worst accidents.
As of 2019, the company has developed external airbags as well which will not only take in the amount of force from an accident and reduce the damage to the car but will also protect the passengers from any kind of heavy shocks. This type of airbag system is going to deploy automatically with the help of sensors when it senses an upcoming impact.
For example, if two cars are going back-to-back and the front car breaks immediately, the back car with an external airbag will deploy the airbags as soon as it senses that the car cannot be brought to a safe stop without colliding. Real life safety is made better!
Airbag technology is on its rise for the past many years. Many companies have even started working on aftermarket airbags to provide the safety feature in cars that do not have this system installed by default. With companies like ZF, we can expect that the safety of cars is going to be improved even further and we might see fewer fatalities and injuries with car accidents. In case you don’t have an airbag system installed in your car, we highly recommend you get one right away to protect yourself and your loved ones.