An automotive component specialist has begun working on a new type of airbag which is fitted to the outside of the car, making side impacts less deadly.

ZF TRW are working on a system that is designed to lessen the force of an impact from another vehicle coming into the side of the car.

Although Volvo were the first manufacturer to utilise airbags in any other area than the interior of the car – it fitted them to the bonnet to lessen the impact to pedestrians should a crash occur – ZF TRW are the first to use them to reduce the severity of a car-to-car collision.

The airbag, which would be mounted to the side of the vehicle, would detonate after the vehicle senses a side-on collision. Another airbag would be used to push the seat away from the door that is about to be hit, moving the occupant further away from the incoming car.

This technology is still very much in the development stage, with its implementation into production cars still many years away. However, it shows that technology companies are still trying to further occupant safety, as well as utilising the very best technology that they have to hand.

Steve Pearson, ZF TRW’s director, said: “There are a lot of people in the industry working on that [the problems surrounding external airbags]. The technology is getting better.”

These new airbags are so large that they need two inflators, meaning that they take more time to inflate. Although there are many problems facing the technology, ZF TRW is adamant that the system will feature in future cars.

Jack Evans


After completing his university studies in English and Creative Writing in Cardiff, Jack is now a full time motoring writer at Blackball Media. His love of cars stems from his childhood years when he began to live and breathe all-things automotive.

February 16, 2016

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