Few auto safety devices have captured the imagination of the experts and public alike as the air bag restraint system.
On camera introduction
Profile, black car
Overhead view, interior, black car
MS white car
Interior, white car
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Background: Few auto safety devices have captured the imagination of the experts and public alike as the air bag restraint system. ford, which has been interested in such systems for a number of years, has released this film on the current state of the art.
Here in slow motion is a 30 mile-an-hour angular collision between a pair of 1969 Fords, both equipped with experimental air bag systems. The dummy passengers in both cars also are restrained with lap belts.
Now, in extreme slow motion, we see the passenger in the black car effectively restrained by the air bag. Nitrogen gas fills the bag and is expelled through valves in the side as the dummy hits it. The bag must inflate automatically in less than four one-hundredths of a second to intercept the forward motion of the passenger toward the instrument panel.
Here is an overhead view of the same car in the same test. The bag is triggered by a sensor mounted in the instrument panel. It must respond to impacts that are roughly the equivalent of hitting a solid barrier at 10 miles an hour.
But in the second car, a similar sensor reacted a few milliseconds too slowly. Thy dummy was pitched forward to the instrument panel before deployment of the air bag. In effect, the impact of the crash actually was over before the bag fired.
This closeup view reveals one of several "bugs" that has been encountered in Ford's development work. It is essential that sensors react properly under different impact conditions. Ford engineers believe that air bags hold promise as passive restraint systems when used with lap belts but that mush more research is needed before they'll be ready.