Ford Introduces New Knee Airbag for 2015 Mustang

2015 Ford Mustang Active Glovebox Knee AirbagFord has improved the Mustang’s airbag system.The 2015 model will include a new knee airbag for the front passenger, giving the vehicle a total of eight airbags, twice as many as the 2014 model. The new Mustang will feature an active glove box with an airbag embedded in the door that inflates and causes the glove compartment door to spring forward to protect the passenger’s knees in the event of a crash.

A knee airbag must inflate downward and forward and be able to absorb an impact from the passenger’s knees. The airbag in the glove box door acts as a cushion and is able to distribute the force of the impact over a wider area than a traditional airbag.

Rather than being made of fabric, the airbag in the active glove box is made of an inflatable plastic bladder located between the inner and outer panels of the glove box door. It is made of the same plastic as the glove box outer door, but it is relatively pliant. The airbag acts more as a springboard to absorb an impact than a rigid surface.

Ford decided to use this design, rather than a traditional knee airbag, because of space and weight considerations. Since it requires less inflation pressure than a conventional airbag, the new design is 65 percent lighter and 75 percent smaller.

The airbag does not reduce the amount of space in the glove box because it pops the door forward. The design allows the glove box to sit farther forward than previous designs, which provides additional space for the front passenger.

Ford says the active glove box provides protection for a passenger comparable to the protection from a traditional knee airbag. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has not yet tested the airbags.

Engineers Create Inflatable Concrete Dome

inflatable concreteConcrete shells are normally supported by complex timber structures. Engineers at the Vienna University of Technology have developed a revolutionary method that supports concrete structures with inflatable air cushions.

The new technique does not require the use of any timber supporting structures. A flat slab of concrete is created in segments with wedge-shaped spaces between them. The geometric shape must be exactly right for the technique to work. After the slab hardens, a cushion below it, which consists of two sheets of plastic welded together, is inflated. As it inflates, a steel cable is tightened around the concrete segments. This causes the concrete to be lifted up at the center and pushed together from the outside. The segments are connected by metal beams to ensure that they move at the same rate.

As the concrete is bent, tiny cracks appear throughout the structure, similar to the way cracks can appear in stone arches. This does not jeopardize the stability of the structure. The shell can be plastered, which makes it just as stable as concrete structures built using traditional methods.

An experimental structure has been built using the new method at the Aspang Grounds in Vienna. It was created in about two hours and measures 2.9 meters high. The experimental structure does not fit with normal geometric designs because it is an elongated dome.

The inflatable concrete method can be used to create shells in many unconventional shapes, which can be useful in modern architectural designs, by changing the shapes of the concrete slab and air cushion. The technique can be used to create structures with a diameter of up to 50 meters, such as event halls, as well as ones with a radius of curvature as small as three meters.

The new technique can save time, resources, and money since a timber supporting structure is not required. Researchers estimate that the method can cut construction costs in half or save even more for larger structures.

The technique has been patented. The Austrian Federal Railways has commissioned a design project for a deer pass over two high speed rail tracks using the construction method.

Architect Presents Inflatable Technology at International Exhibition

inflatable shadeArchitects from the University of Houston’s Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture went to Italy to showcase their work in the 2014 Venice Biennale. David Regone and four other recent graduates are presenting their designs to improve structures along Texas’s Buffalo Bayou. The students are showcasing their designs in an exhibition curated by the University of Houston.

Architects from the University of Houston, Tulane University, Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands, and the University of Buenos Aires developed designs for the University of Houston’s “Three Continents Studio.” The universities explored solutions for the unique challenges that coastal cities face. The two-semester project helped architects work together to tackle real-world problems. Houston is subject to extreme weather, urban sprawl, and industrial growth.

Regone’s project addresses the problem of creating shade in areas with strong sunlight. He created inflatable shading modules that inflate on sunny days to deflect sunlight. He sought to create a “living” building to reflect the temporal nature of the bayou and adjust to its climate. The project was intended to focus on Houston’s waterways, figure out how to protect and enhance them, inspire new visions for the city, and provide solutions for its problems.

Regone was inspired by inflatable architecture, which was popular in the 1960s, and by technology created by NASA to study Venus. NASA created inflatable technology that was able to withstand extreme temperatures. Regone learned new skills while experimenting with unfamiliar materials.

Regone plans to talk to others at the conference about his idea and hopes to get feedback and inspiration. He hopes that sharing his idea with professionals from around the world will lead to an international opportunity.

Ford to Make Inflatable Seat Belt Technology Available to Other Companies

inflatable seat beltsFord is offering its inflatable rear seat belt technology to other companies and industries, including rival car makers. Ford believes the inflatable seat belts could also be used by the military or in aircraft or boats.

The company is making the technology available to other companies as part of an effort to make travel safer and reduce injuries. Ford has made other safety technology available for licensing by its competitors in the past.

Inflatable rear seat belts are designed to provide additional protection for rear-seat passengers, who are often children and older adults who are more at risk for head, neck, and chest injuries. The inflatable rear seat belts contain air bags. They function like traditional seat belts under normal circumstances.

In the event of an accident, sensors determine when the belt should inflate. They send a signal to the belt’s tubular air bag that causes it to quickly inflate with compressed gas. The seat belt inflates to cover a portion of the occupant’s torso five times wider than a traditional seat belt, which spreads the force of the impact over a broader area and reduces the pressure of the impact. It can also control head and neck motion, which can reduce the likelihood of injury.

Inflatable rear seatbelts are currently available in Ford’s Explorer, Taurus, Flex, and Fusion models and in the Lincoln MKT and MKZ. The technology will also be available in the 2015 F-150.

The inflatable seat belts can be used with child car seats and boosters. Safety experts agree that the rear seat is the safest place for children.