Cycling with a helmet is definitely safer than riding with no helmet, but even so, there’s still room for improvement when it comes to absorbing efficiency. Two Swedish companies are working on just that, teaming up to develop a bike helmet with integrated airbag.
Automotive safety systems developer Autoliv joined forces with protective gear manufacturer POC to study the use of airbag technology in helmets for bikes and e-bikes. According to Autoliv, the airbag would act as the initial energy absorber, while the underlying helmet will provide the second layer of protection.
The conclusion of a pre-study conducted by the two partners is that this type of technology will significantly improve protection, minimizing the consequences of an impact. Autoliv and POC also concluded that the protection improvements can be achieved without compromising the helmet in terms of design, weight, or comfort.
As reported by Autoliv, severe bicycle injuries have increased by 24 percent over the last 10 years and more than half of the deadly ones are head injuries (60 percent). The airbag helmet would significantly increase safety, reducing the cyclist’s risk of sustaining moderate to fatal injuries from 80 percent to 30 percent in a 20 kph (12 mph) impact.
The problem with most bike helmets is that they are tested and certified in a laboratory setting, which can’t replicate quite the same real-life scenarios and the real-world variables of bike crashes. What Autoliv and POC want to do is excel in test scenarios and push the envelope towards more shock absorbing capacity, according to Oscar Huss, POC Chief Product Officer.
Autoliv and POC’s airbag helmet will be suitable for use not just with regular bikes but also electric ones, as e-bike users ride at higher speeds and need even better head protection.
We are yet to find out when Autoliv and POC plan to bring such a helmet to the market as the two have just developed the initial concepts so far and have conducted correlated physical crash tests. The next step is to further test and refine the product.
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