In a recent press release, Autoliv (the world’s leading provider of automotive safety systems) and POC (the world’s leading provider of snowsports and cycling safety equipment) announce that they are joining forces. The goal is to research and develop bicycle and e-bike helmets equipped with airbag technology. This is intended to improve head protection and reduce the consequences of an impact.
Finding new ways to save lives
Head injuries alone account for half of the fatal injuries among cyclists. Although it has been proven that helmets improve head safety, the latest bicycle safety report from the Swedish insurance company Folksam shows that the absorption efficiency of helmets could still be greatly improved, especially in collisions with a car at speeds above 20 km/h.
POC and Autoliv have collaborated to explore the potential of airbag technology in helmets. The airbag would act as the first energy absorber, while the helmet underneath would be the subsequent energy absorber.
After conducting a preliminary study, the Autoliv research team concludes that a bicycle helmet with an integrated airbag can significantly improve protection and reduce the consequences of an impact for cyclists. The combination of both absorption technologies allows for a reduction in maximum linear head acceleration and a significantly reduced risk of head injury in impact tests. The preliminary study also demonstrated that the protection improvements can be achieved without critically compromising the design, weight or comfort of a helmet with integrated airbag technology.
Due to increased environmental awareness and the emergence of e-bike commuting, the number of cyclists is growing rapidly worldwide. This growth needs to be supported by improved helmet protection, especially at higher speeds made possible by e-biking. During the preliminary study, Autoliv and POC developed the initial concepts using advanced simulation tools and conducted appropriate physical crash tests. The successful outcome of the preliminary study will now lead to further testing and refinement, with the aim of further developing the concept and possibly bringing a product to market.