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Exterior airbags

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In the 2018 Airbag Forum, ZF have introduced the concept of a new type of airbag.

The new technology is designed to protect passengers in cars in side impact collisions.

A large cushion is inflated outside the body, covering the door area for a brief moment before a side impact. ZF States that they have already conducted tests which show that the lateral outer cushion allows the severity of injuries to be reduced by 40%.

According to the developers, this technology will be especially relevant for self-driving cars, in which passenger involvement will differ from the traditional.

ZF would like to introduce this new technology on all cars with immediate effect.

Meanwhile, some cars already have the outer “airbag” along the lower edge of the windshield is to protect a downed pedestrian from hard impacts (the original pioneer was the hatchback Volvo V40, which debuted in 2012).

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My personal opinion. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. I got T-boned by a car doing 60 MPH 17 years ago. The day I passed my first driving test. I was minding my own business, going to pick up some friends from a nightclub. The impact was so violent that the car bent like a banana, the transmission tunnel collapsed and my seat ended up on the passenger side of the car. To this day I still have back problems and on a bad day, I have to turn my full body to speak to the person next to me because my neck is stiff. Something like this could have saved me a lifetime of pain. 

On the other hand, this technology is required to be preemptive. The car needs to sense that an impact is close in order to deploy the system. I have seen airbags pop out because someone hit a speed bump too hard and I’ve even seen them pop out a couple of times for no apparent reason at all. A false deployment of this system could injure anyone standing too close or damage an overtaking car, even push both cars off the road, not to mention the repair costs for a false deployment. 

I like the idea, but I don’t think technology has come far enough to make it a reliable system. 50 million Takata airbags have been recalled due to faulty igniters already. To me, that just says we aren’t quite there yet. 

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