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Like seat belts, airbags are a type of automotive safety
restraint system designed to reduce injury in the event of an
accident. Built into the steering wheel, dashboard, door, roof
and/or seat of your car, these gas-filled cushions use an impact
sensor to trigger a rapid expansion of nitrogen gas contained
within a cushion which springs on impact, to create a
protective barrier between passengers. and hard surfaces.
The two main types of airbags are designed for front and side
impacts. Advanced front airbag systems automatically
determine whether and at what strength the driver's front
airbag and the passenger's front airbag are deployed. The
correct power level is based on measurements of sensor inputs
that can typically detect the size of the occupants, the position
of the seats, the use of seat belts by the occupants and the
severity of the accident.
In 1964, Japanese automotive engineer Yasuzabrou Kobori
developed an airbag "safety net" system that used an explosive
to inflate the airbag, for which he received patents in 14
countries. Unfortunately, Kobori died in 1975 before seeing his
ideas put into practice or widely adopted.
In 1971, Ford Motor Company built an experimental fleet of
airbags. General Motors installed airbags in a fleet of 1973
Chevrolet Impalas - for government use only. The 1973
Oldsmobile Toronado was the first car with a passenger airbag
sold to the public. General Motors then offered a driver's airbag
option in larger Oldsmobiles and Buicks in 1975 and 1976,
respectively. The technology has only improved since then,
giving hope that the future of cars will be even safer than they
are today.
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