That way, in the event of an impact, the new airbag can better envelop the driver’s head and prevent it from rolling off the airbag in an angled collision.
“The sail panel allows us to bring the first restraint surface closer to you.
That allows us to have this nice, soft, gentle engagement. Then as we get into the main portion of the airbag, that initial contact allows us to reduce the stiffness of the central airbag, further reducing the probability of occupant injury,” said Erik Heitkamp, the Honda safety engineer who spearheaded the program.
Going beyond just redesigning the shape of the airbag, Honda and Autoliv also used a two-stage inflator, unlike the traditional single-stage of most airbags.
With just 150 milliseconds between the two stages, which, according to Honda, is the “peak injury” interval, the designers allow the new airbag to inflate just in time to prevent damage to the driver or passenger.
The new design comes from Honda’s partnership with airbag manufacturer Autoliv.
That means that, once it launches, it will be available exclusively to Honda automobiles for six months.
Then, Autoliv will be free to use sell airbag design to other car manufacturers.