Here’s an interesting conversation piece. Airbags.
For years we have been using cutting edge systems in our cars, protecting drivers and passengers from every angle. We’ve moved on from the simple driver, steering wheel system and now have this technology in the door panels, passenger, and rear seats. Drivers are also given control and can disable certain airbags, such as the passenger seat when taking small children on journeys.
Of course, those of us who ride bikes haven’t been able to benefit from these safety features, until now.
The powerhouse of innovation, Honda, believe they have come up with a solution to the problem. Working with safety systems company Autoliv Inc. they have created a cutting edge system which sits in front of the driver on the scooter and deploys when an acceleration sensor detects a head-on collision. The airbag extends upwards and protects the head and upper body from a hard impact.
Developing this technology for motorbikes is more tricky than for cars where you have a steering wheel and dash to counter the force of the occupants being thrown forward. With a scooter, Honda and Autoliv had to use the support of whatever the rider hits. It is an incredibly smart solution and can deliver protection to the driver in just 0.04 seconds.
“In many sudden motorbike accidents, a motorbike crashes into the side of a car. So, the air bag can contribute to reducing the number of casualties.”
Initial testings suggest that the airbag can protect a driver’s head when a scooter traveling at 50km/h hits a parked car and will offer additional safety for hard impact crashes, especially those where the rider isn’t ejected from the bike. Such as hitting a car from behind, or losing control and hitting a solid, static structure.
The discussion point here surrounds the practical benefit of this system. By adding weight and cost to the bike, is it going to offer riders a better solution than the development of airbag motorcycle wear?
Both Alpinestars and Dainese have developed their Tech-Air and D-Air ranges respectively to provide complete upper body protection of the back, shoulders, kidney area and chest. In a street crash, these are the main areas exposed to injury. On-track systems often inspire manufacturers to develop and adapt solutions for the road, but as we know an accident on track is very different to a road and needs to be programmed for.
And – as when these rider devices were first introduced there are concerns about possibly doing more harm than good. Could the use of this device add risk in the event of a sensor failure for example? Does all of that extra mechanism and gadgetry actually convert into extra safety?
While Honda must be applauded for their constant drive to keep riders safe and ensure complete protection, is an airbag system on the bike the best way to do this?
We’d love to know your thoughts and to see how this story develops.
Source: Nikkei Technology