ZF LIFETEC side airbag increases crumple zone in passenger compartment

Written by Nizam Shaikh

German technology company, ZF LIFETEC has developed a new side airbag for passenger cars. The two stage airbag increases protection in the event of a side collision. The side airbag system deploys milliseconds before the imminent crash and creates additional distance between the door and the occupant. Thanks to this additional distance, the actual side airbag which is the second stage can deploy to its full protective capacity minimising injuries. Furthermore, the ZF LIFETEC airbag system utilises the pre-crash sensors from the car manufacturers making integration easier for car manufacturers.

How Does It Work?

The ZF LIFETEC side airbag uses the pre-crash sensors already available on the vehicle to detect an impending crash. By using the existing signal acquisition system the ZF LIFETEC airbag gives vehicle manufacturers the option of integrating the system into their sensor infrastructure. When the ZF LIFETEC system detects a signal for unavoidable collision, the first stage of the Dual Stage side airbag is triggered and the deployed 200 milliseconds before the calculated crash scenario. Upon deployment the side airbag (SAB) pushes the occupant 60 millimetres towards the inside of the vehicle creating an added space between the occupant and the door. All of this happens before the second stage of the side airbag is deployed. In addition to this, other restraint systems such as airbags and belt tensioners are triggered by the actual impact. The extra space created, thanks to the SAB allows the classic airbag to positions itself correctly and inflate fully between the occupant and the door.

Hybrid Inflation System

The ZF LIFETEC SAB features two inflators to fill the two-part cushion. A hybrid inflator brings the airbag into position by filling the pre-crash chamber with 20-litres in 30 milliseconds pushing the occupant away. Another exclusive pyrotechnic inflator fills the bag further with 18-litres within 10 milliseconds shortly after the impact. To avoid pressure conflict between the two chambers, the pre-crash chamber is vented via a trigger flap. This gives the second chamber a larger available space. Even if the car’s sensors do not detect a pre-crash signal the system is designed to deploy like a conventional airbag.

The system has already proved itself in several crash tests including sled test and ZF LIFETEC plans to develop the Pre-Crash Dual Stage Side Airbag to application maturity within the next few years. 

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