Ford's new airbag technology makes its debut with the 2015 Mustang and it's garnering much attention for its ability to protect knees much better than previous iterations.
The new airbag is smaller and lighter which allows for a roomier interior, the Detroit Free Press reports. The key is an inflatable plastic bladder integrated into the glove box door instead of the usual knee air bag mounted under the instrumental panel.
With this new design, when car sensors detect a crash is imminent, an inflator fills the bladder extending the entire glove box outer door panel toward the passengers legs, providing an excellent cushion.
The new location is ideal because it positions the glove box closer to the knees so the bag has a shorter distance to travel and the glove box door distributes the impact load over a larger area.
"With this innovative airbag design, we have developed technology that provides protection for occupants while also reducing weight and enabling greater design flexibility," said Sean West, Ford's restraints manager.
He noted that because the smaller packaging of the airbag is 75 percent smaller and 65 percent lighter, it allows designers to think differently about where they can place airbags in the car in the future.
Additionally, because there are no visible seams or airbag cover for a more attractive interior. Without having to worry about the logistics of the airbag in the dashboard, it can be pushed closer to the windshield for a roomier feel to the cabin.
Ford has 15 patents on the system so far and more have been filed. Look for other automakers to recognize a good thing when they see it... and replicate it.