Airbag helmet developed by IIT students to help save lives in case of accidents: How it works

The inflatable helmet developed by IIT Roorkee students gets multiple sensors that sense parameters like acceleration, lean angle and more. Based on these, the helmet inflates just before an impact takes place, in less than 100 milliseconds to be precise.

By: | Updated: June 27, 2018 4:45 PM
Inflatable helmet (Image Source: Bicycling.com)

IITs are esteemed institutions of technology and these have always been known for generating useful and smart tech for numerous industries. This time, three students of IIT-Roorkee are in headlines for developing a special helmet. Unlike conventional ones, the new helmet designed by IIT-Roorkee students works like an airbag and can be worn like a collar around the neck until there is an impact. The inflatable helmet senses an impact as it comes with multiple sensors that are capable of sensing multiple parameters like the lean angle, acceleration and more. On the basis of the information, the helmet inflates 100 milliseconds before an impact takes place. As soon as the helmet inflates, it forms a cushion around the skull and hence, one can see that its functioning is quite similar to that of an airbag.

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While conventional helmets only protect the skull fractures and not internal bleeding that result in damage to the brain, the students claim that inflatable helmets can reduce the impact up to four times. In technical words, the inflatable helmet absorbs the kinetic energy generated during the impact and releases it gradually. The students add that the inflatable helmets developed overseas are quite expensive as the sensors used in them come at a higher price. However, the sensors used in the inflatable helmet by IIT-Roorkee students are claimed to be easily available and pocket-friendly that will help them price the helmets sensibly.

Graphical representation of inflatable helmet developed by IIT Roorkee students

The students at IIT Roorkee got this idea during their internship at Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) as they were working on an inflatable space antenna. Inspired by the concept, the students decided to give it a try and studied in depth about the laws of collision and the physics behind. The students say that their project has shown positive results but for mass production, they need industry support. For this reason, they are currently looking for industrial partnerships in order to make the helmets commercially available.

The concept of inflatable helmets indeed sounds interesting and especially in a country like India, where most of the people find a helmet a burden on their head, the 'lightweight' project is expected to attract a lot of buyers. Also, most of the people wear a helmet in India in order to avoid penalty and for this reason, they buy cheap helmets that are good for nothing when it comes to a crash. In such cases, the inflatable helmets, if priced sensibly can be a worthy alternative for both kinds of people. Now what remains to be seen is how much time these helmets take to hit the market and if the students and industry partners manage to price them competitively enough to appeal to the masses.

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