The 2015 Ford Mustang will be the first vehicle to feature a new airbag design the bring passenger safety to a new level. The new airbag provides inflatable restraint protection in a smaller, lighter package, allowing the carmaker to make the cabin more spacious than before.
The new airbag is part of Ford’s standard comprehensive safety system, which includes new package of sensors, safety belt anchor pretensioners as well as enhanced exterior lighting and twice the number of airbags.
The initial application of this new airbag technology entails an inflatable plastic bladder being integrated into the glove box door, providing front passenger knee protection just like a conventional knee airbag under the instrument panel.
Other applications are being considered for the new technology, including placing airbags in new locations inside the vehicle. The technology allows placement of airbags almost anywhere inside a cabin, thus enabling more flexibility in design.
Sean West, Ford restraints manager, remarked that with the innovative airbag design, Ford has developed technology that provides protection for vehicle occupants while cutting weight and enabling greater design flexibility.
The new knee airbag was achieved with Ford engineers developing and testing innovative materials and construction techniques. The new airbag system is made up of injection-molded plastic bladder squeezed between the inner and outer glove box door panels.
Once crash sensor system detects an impact, an inflator fills the bladder, extending the entire glove box outer door panel toward the front passenger’s legs. Once deployed, the outer door could help cushion impact just like a traditional knee airbag.
The airbag’s placement allows faster cushioning and could operate even at a lower inflation pressure. The design of the glove-box integrated airbag is around 65 percent lighter than the traditional knee airbag.
Its inflator is also around 75 percent smaller than a conventional knee airbag inflator, but still provides comparable protection to the passenger. The airbag system is packaged with no visible seams or cover – allowing designers more flexibility to place the dashboard closer to the windshield.