Autoliv, the automotive safety systems manufacturer, and POC, snow sports and cycling protection firm, have joined hands to study and develop bicycle and e-bike helmets equipped with airbag technology to improve head protection and reduce the consequences of road accidents.
Head injuries alone account for half of the deadly bicyclist injuries. Although it is established that helmets are beneficial to head safety, the latest Bicycle Safety report by Swedish insurance company Folksam makes the case that helmet absorption efficiency could still be greatly improved, especially when collisions occur with a car at speeds above 20 km/h (12 mph).
POC and Autoliv have been working together to assess the potential of using airbag technology in helmets. The airbag would act as the initial energy absorber while the underlying helmet would be the following energy absorber.
After conducting a pre-study, the conclusion from the Autoliv research team is that a cycle helmet with an integrated airbag can significantly improve protection and reduce the consequences of impacts on cyclists. The combination of both absorbing technologies enables a reduction of the peak linear head acceleration and significantly reduced head injury risk in impact tests. The pre-study also showed that the protection improvements could be reached without critically compromising the design, weight, or comfort of a helmet designed with integrated airbag technology.
Cecilia Sunnevång, Vice President, Research, Autoliv said, “The safety of vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and e-bike riders, is high on our agenda. Therefore, it was natural to collaborate on this initiative with POC to explore how to improve helmet protection in current standard testing and more challenging scenarios, such as higher impact speeds.”.
The pre-study showed that the addition of airbag technology on top of the helmet can significantly contribute to enhanced safety performance, especially in linear impacts. It is estimated that the risk for a bicyclist to sustain moderate to fatal head injuries is reduced from 80 per cent to 30 per cent in a 20 km/h (12 mph) impact.
Autoliv has formed Mobility Safety Solutions (MSS) to extend its business into new market areas beyond light vehicles and occupant safety. By combining our core competence and industry experience, MSS develops and manufactures mobility safety solutions such as pedestrian protection, battery cut-off switches, connected safety services, and safety solutions for riders of powered two-wheelers.