Frontal-impact airbag systems have the potential to provide a benefit to rear seat occupants by distributing restraining forces over the body in a manner not possible using belts alone. This study sought to investigate the effects of incorporating a belt-integrated airbag ("airbelt") into a rear seat occupant restraint system. Frontal impact sled tests were performed with a Hybrid III 50th percentile male anthropomorphic test device (ATD) seated in the right-rear passenger position of a 2004 mid-sized sedan buck. Tests were performed at 48 km/h (20 g, 100 ms acceleration pulse) and 29 km/h (11 g, 100 ms). The restraints consisted of a 3-point belt system with a cylindrical airbag integrated into the upper portion of the shoulder belt. The airbag was tapered in shape, with a maximum diameter of 16 cm (at the shoulder) that decreased to 4 cm at the mid-chest. A 2.5 kN force-limiter was integrated into the shoulder-belt retractor, and a 2.3 kN pretensioner was present in the out-board anchor of the lap belt. Six ATD tests (three 48 km/h and three 29 km/h) were performed with the airbelt system. These were compared to previous frontal-impact, rear seat ATD tests with a standard (not-force-limited, not-pretensioned) 3point belt system and a progressive force-limiting (peak 4.4 kN), pretensioning (FL+PT) 3-point belt system. In the 48 km/h tests, the airbelt resulted in significantly less (p<0.05, two-tailed Student's t-test) posterior displacement of the sternum towards the spine (chest deflection) than both the standard and FL+PT belt systems (airbelt: average 13±1.1 mm standard deviation; standard belt: 33±2.3 mm; FL+PT belt: 23±2.6 mm). This was consistent with a significant reduction in the peak upper shoulder belt force (airbelt: 2.7±0.1 kN; standard belt: 8.7±0.3 kN; FL+PT belt: 4.4±0.1 kN), and was accompanied by a small increase in forward motion of the head (airbelt: 54±0.4 cm; standard belt: 45±1.3 cm; FL+PT belt: 47±1.1 cm) The airbelt system also significantly reduced the flexion moment in the lower neck (airbelt: 169±3.3 Nm; standard belt: 655±26 Nm; FL+PT belt: 308±19 Nm). Similar results were observed in the 29 km/h tests. These results suggest that this airbelt system may provide some benefit for adult rear seat occupants in frontal collisions, even in relatively low-speed impacts. Further study is needed to evaluate this type of restraint system for different size occupants (e.g., children), for out-of-position occupants, and with other occupant models (e.g., cadavers).
54th AAAM Annual Scientific Conference, Las Vegas, Nevada (United States of America). 17 October 2010
Published in Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine, vol: 54, pp: 111-125, ISSN: 1943-2461
Publication date: October 2010.
J.L. Forman, F.J. López-Valdés, N.J. Dennis, R. W. Kent, H. Tanji, K. Higuchi, An inflatable belt system in the rear seat occupant environment: investigating feasibility and benefit in frontal impact sled tests with a 50th percentile male ATD, 54th AAAM Annual Scientific Conference - AAAM 2010, Las Vegas, United States of America, 17-20 October 2010. Annals of Advances in Automotive Medicine, vol. 54, pp. 111-125, ISSN: 1943-2461