Autoliv focuses on pedestrian safety

  • 28-Oct-2008 02:24 EDT
Autoliv TextilePAB_hook+windowType.jpg

Another new airbag design from Autoliv saves weight and eases packaging, including hooking to the instrument panel.

Autoliv’s new "Light-Pack Anti-Sliding" airbag is outfitted on the coupe version of Renault’s second-generation Mégane range. Some 60% (1 kg) lighter than the previous anti-sliding airbag, in the event of an accident it raises the leading edge of the seat cushion to prevent submarining by the occupant (sliding under the seatbelt) and reduces the risk of knee injuries.

It also provides a "softer" deceleration rate for the front-seat occupants because crash energy can be absorbed more evenly by the front airbag when the occupant remains in an upright position, explained Autoliv at the Paris Motor Show.

The weight reduction has been achieved by using what Autoliv describes as "a unique textile fabric" for the airbag cushion instead of an airtight flexible canister of thin, welded steel sheets. It also reduces tooling investment for prototypes and series production, simplifies the system’s integration into a seat, and offers added possibilities of standardizing products for various seat structures. The system will be used to equip the products of several Autoliv customers in the near future.

Autoliv has achieved a 30% weight reduction for a new passenger airbag, also using a fabric container instead of a steel or plastic housing. It will be used on the Chevrolet Traverse, Saturn Outlook, GMC Acadia, and Buick Enclave. Autoliv states that the airbag system is more easily integrated into the dashboard because the soft fabric housing could be adapted to the dashboard packing space. It could also "more robustly absorb" tolerance differences between upper and lower instrument panel sections; be used for a hard mount to the rear of the instrument panel; and hooked to the instrument panel chute walls—and could be combined with a variety of inflator and cushion options for specific vehicle needs.

Autoliv also announced in Paris that it had developed a new, patented environmentally friendly steering wheel material that can replace polyurethane. This, too, is fitted to the new Renault. The company has not revealed full details of the material but states that it is a thermoplastic injection molded into the magnesium or steel structure of the steering wheel. It replaces polyurethane as a covering of the rim and other parts of the steering wheel armature.

The company claims that the new material improves the haptic experience of using a steering wheel.

As night-vision technology progresses, Autoliv has revealed its second-generation system, which it describes as having "the world’s first advanced pedestrian detection capability for worldwide application using a single infra-red (IR) sensor."

The new system is fitted to the latest generation BMW 7-Series. It uses an improved IR sensor mounted on the car’s front grille, which scans the road ahead for pedestrians more than twice as far as headlight range. "To provide an extra margin of safety, the system will also analyze the scene content and vehicle dynamics to determine if the pedestrian is at risk of being hit by the vehicle," stated Autoliv. If so, the driver is alerted.

Because traffic conditions and even pedestrian behavior varies in countries across the world, Autoliv assembled data via night vision video sequences acquired in areas as diverse as the U.S., China, South Africa, Japan, and several European countries. More than 50 million image "patches" were used for "training" the software algorithms used to detect pedestrians and alert the driver.

The company added that the system also adapts to varying road conditions—from city to country areas: "When driving at slower speeds in the city, where a high level of pedestrian traffic is anticipated, the system monitors a smaller and shorter corridor of the road ahead to prevent too many warnings due to increased pedestrian traffic. In the countryside, while driving at higher speed, the system will monitor a wider and deeper corridor of the road."

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