What's in the airbag of a car

Airbag

How does an airbag work?

The Airbag belongs like the seat belt to the passive security systems in a motor vehicle. In the event of a collision, sensors register the impact. Immediately by an electrical impulse, they trigger an ignition and thus the burning of a material that generates gas. This gas fills the airbag, which unfolds and pushes as a soft cushion between a vehicle occupant and the interior of the car. Only milliseconds pass between the impact and the inflation of the airbag.

The airbag is no substitute for the seat beltbut only both together guarantee the best possible protection. The seat belt brakes the forward movement of the vehicle occupant who Airbag protects the head and upper body before a collision with the vehicle interior. So that the airbag really only inflates in the event of an accident, the sensors measure the strength of the impact. This prevents the airbag from opening if the car is bumped slightly when parking.

What types of airbags are there?

When talking about an airbag, it is usually that Front airbag on the driver's side meant, which is located in the steering wheel. But there are also a number of other airbags that can be installed in a vehicle. This includes:

  • Passenger airbags
  • Knee airbags
  • Side airbags
  • Seat belt airbags

There are even so-called Pedestrian airbagsthat unfold in a collision with a person outside the car. They are designed to protect the person being hit from the vehicle. However, pedestrian airbags are rarely installed.

Airbags are also used, for example, in airplanes and motorcycles. For the drivers of the latter there is also special airbag jackets. They are triggered by a rip cord or an electronic module on the motorcycle.

Airbags can also be differentiated according to how quickly they direct the gas into the cushion. Adaptive airbags have two-stage gas generators and can estimate the strength of the impact. The gas is then fed into the cushion either all at once or in two steps. The latter variant has the advantage that the pressure inside the airbag builds up gradually and the impact of the body on the cushion is therefore gentler.

Readability of the airbag system

An interesting function of any airbag system is that digital data storage in the control device of the protective cushion. For example:

  • Information about faults that occur before, during and after the collision
  • the ignition time, i.e. the point in time at which the airbag was activated
  • Seat occupancy detection data

If this data is read out, valuable information about the course of the accident can be obtained. However, reading out is only possible by the manufacturer of the car or the control system. This is of particular interest for the subsequent settlement of claims. Information on the course of the accident can provide further details about your own or third-party debt, so that the costs incurred can be covered by the responsible motor vehicle insurance company.

The history of the airbag

The need for better safety systems in passenger cars was recognized as early as the 1950s. The first patents for airbags were filed both in Germany and in the USA. However, the first drafts could not be implemented - it was not until the 1970s that the car manufacturer Mercedes was able to present a functioning airbag system. Another decade later, Mercedes installed front airbags in its vehicles for the first time - initially in luxury-class cars.

Over time, more and more vehicle manufacturers introduced the airbag as part of the standard equipment of their vehicles. The airbag has been established as a supplementary safety system since the 1990s. During this time, many new types of air bags were developed; For example, the knee and side airbags were invented at this time.

Research and development work continuously to improve the existing airbag systems. For example, at some point there will be airbags that adapt to the size and weight of the vehicle occupants. Airbags currently installed are designed for an average size and weight, so that smaller people in particular are not optimally protected.

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