Honda enhances passenger-side safety with Autoliv’s next-gen airbag

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RAYMOND, Ohio — Beginning next year, Honda will roll out a next-generation passenger-side airbag designed to reduce the probability of injuries in a wider variety of frontal crashes.

The automaker previewed the technology for the press at its Honda R&D Americas complex here.

The airbag, co-developed with Swedish supplier Autoliv, utilizes four major components, unlike conventional passenger-side airbags that use one inflatable component:

  • A center chamber.
  • Two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dashboard.
  • A “sail panel” that stretches between the two side chambers at their outermost edge. Honda describes it as a “catcher’s mitt” that catches and decelerates the occupant’s head while also engaging the side chambers, pulling them inward to cradle and protect the head, mitigating the potential for injury.

Honda said the airbag is particularly beneficial in angled frontal impacts, in which lateral collision forces can cause an occupant’s head to rotate severely or slide off the airbag, increasing the chance of serious injury.

“This airbag system is really looking at load cases where it’s at an off-axis, let’s say, 20 to 30 degrees, where now the occupant isn’t coming straight into the restraint system,” said Eric Heitkamp, the Honda R&D crashworthiness engineer who led the project. “It’s actually coming at an angle.

“With this new system, we can better manage lateral forces that are coming into the airbag system. … And we’re able to provide a better restraining system from the airbag.”

Honda representatives said the airbag will debut in 2020 but declined to disclose which models will be the first to receive it.

Autoliv is one of the suppliers that Honda retained to help build replacement inflators in the wake of the Takata airbag crisis — the largest recall in the history of the auto industry. Autoliv will have the right to make the airbags available to other automakers once Honda’s exclusive right expires.

Citing confidentiality, Honda would not say how long that period will be.

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