Swedish car maker Volvo has designed a concept for an inflatable car safety seat to be used by children. The car seat can be inflated in less than 40 seconds with a silent internal pump simply by pressing a button. It can be deflated in the same amount of time and stored in a backpack, making it easy to transport.
Volvo designed the inflatable car seat as an alternative to conventional child safety seats that are heavy and difficult to transport. When inflated, the car seat weighs 11 pounds, making it about half the weight of traditional children’s safety seats. The pump that is used to inflate the car seat is powered by electronics that are Bluetooth-enabled, which could allow parents to inflate or deflate the seat using a smartphone app.
The child safety seat is crafted with a drop-stitch fabric that was originally created by the military to be used in inflatable airplanes. That technology never materialized, but the fabric has been used for other applications, such as inflatable boats. The material can be inflated to a high enough pressure that it could provide protection in the event of a collision. The car seat has a five-point harness and is intended to be used by children up to three years old.
The inflatable car seat is currently in a proof-of-concept phase. It must be tested and meet government safety standards before it can be made commercially available. Volvo began designing child seats about 50 years ago and was behind early rear-facing child car seat designs.