Ford is bringing to market the world’s first inflatable automobile seat belts. They’ve combined traditional seat belts and air bags to provide more crash safety protection for passengers in the back seat. The restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries.
The inflatable seat belts will be introduced on the next-generation Ford Explorer, which goes in production next year for the American market. Ford eventually plans to offer the technology in vehicles globally.
“Ford’s rear inflatable seat belt technology will enhance safety for rear-seat passengers of all ages, especially for young children who are more vulnerable in crashes,” said Sue Cischke, Ford group vice president of Sustainability. Environmental and Safety Engineering. “This is another unique family technology that builds on our safety leadership, including the most top safety ratings of any automaker.”
In every day use, the inflatable seat belts operate like conventional seat belts and are compatible with car and booster seats.
In Ford’s research, more than 90 percent of those who tested the inflatable seat belt found them to be similar to or more comfortable than a conventional belt.
“Ford is pioneering inflatable seat belt technology to help enhance crash safety protection, while encouraging more people to buckle up with a more comfortable belt,” said Paul Mascarenas, Ford vice president, Engineering, Global Product Development.
Vehicle safety sensors determine the severity of the collision in the blink of an eye and deploy the air bags in the inflatable seat belts. Each belt’s tubular air bag inflates with cold compressed gas, making the seat belt feel no warmer on the wearer’s body than the ambient temperature.