How Far Side Airbags Play A Crucial Role in Vision Zero

BY ALT Technologies | 08th November 2023

Euro NCAP released their Vision 2030: a Safer Future for Mobility guide that outlines their plans for updating vehicle safety testing and their milestones for various car parts. We weigh in on how far side airbags play a vital role in this roadmap.

In April, our team attended the Euro NCAP industry viewing in Brussels, where they viewed 95 cars of different makes and models. ALT Technologies is an occupant safety component supplier, so seeing how our products (our newly developed lightweight PET non-woven and needle-felt airbag covers) come into play in real time is imperative for our product development.

Far-side airbags protect the occupants in a seating row in the front of the car from becoming injured due to a collision between the two occupants. These accidents make up for approximately one-third of all side-impact-related serious injuries.

If the crash impact comes from the passenger door (the driver’s far side), these airbags reduce the driver’s body travelling towards the passenger seat and passenger, thereby reducing additional injury.

Euro NCAP Vision Zero Ratings and Goals

Vision Zero, which aims to bring road traffic fatalities and severe accidents down to zero, requires an updated testing procedure from what was previously used.

According to their report, “front and side crash tests will remain the same, except for the adoption of brain injury risk assessment in the frontal offset mobile barrier test and the phasing in of virtual testing for far-side protection.”

Euro NCAP is updating their safety testing procedures to reflect a new testing quadrant based on the four phases of an accident. This will consist of safe driving, crash avoidance, crash protection and post-crash protection. Far-side airbags fall into crash protection, with milestone eight encompassing “far-side and side pre-crash incentives,” which they hope to achieve between 2026 and 2029.

How Airbag Covers Are Progressing in Line with Vision Zero

As the occupant safety system market continues to be updated, we must move in the right direction. ALT Technologies has been developing lighter airbag covers using needle felt materials to ensure the airbag can withstand harsh environments for an extended period while also meeting vehicle interiors’ current requirements of maintaining a low weight.

Our needle-felt airbag covers could reduce the weight of previously used covers and airbag housing by up to 90%. This update also ensures smoother car seats, as the older covers were sometimes too rugged to position in car seats and protruded at varying angles.

Our knowledge of materials and automotive specifications allows us to develop innovative solutions. We can weld or stitch the cover closed, and our customers could put foam or leather fabric over the airbag cover. This cover is more pliable than previous covers and follows the seat contours without coming up through the surface of the seat. PET-derived needle-felt is exceptionally durable and compacted over many years.

To stabilise the far-side airbag, it is fixed on the seat frame with a strap or supported by the centre console. It can also be triggered when a collision occurs on the driver’s side. If people sit in front seats, lateral acceleration can cause the two car occupants to collide. In this instance, the far-side airbag can help prevent this scenario.

Car Technology and Future Testing

Why the need for updated automotive testing?
Cars look a lot different now from how they did ten years ago. With new HMI systems and printed electronics allowing for new and advanced vehicle interior innovations, the testing landscape is changing. In their Vision Zero campaign, Euro NCAP say not only is it evolving, but consumers face a whole host of new buying challenges, with social media and marketing campaigns changing their influences.

However, with these new technologies comes improved safety features that provide more robust performance. In their Vision Zero press release, they list our new features and functions that Euro NCAP will start taking into consideration: ”airbag deployment parameters and seatbelt load limiter adapted to occupant size, weight, and body type; improved use, routeing, and out-of-position optimisation of seatbelts and head restraints (posture monitoring); advanced airbag deactivation and reliable occupancy information for advanced eCall/dCall.”

ALT are at the Forefront of Innovative Occupant Safety System Developments

Our new PET non-woven airbag cover materials have endured over 4,000 hours of testing in our labs. As OEMs are particularly strict about airbag packaging and covers, stating these materials must last a minimum of 20 years to comply, it is imperative that we rigorously test our products and continuously seek out ways to improve.

With Euro NCAP setting new milestone targets, we, too, must ensure that we keep in line with the outlined automotive specifications whilst maintaining reliability and efficiency as a top priority. We look forward to attending future Euro NCAP viewing days and seeing how the new requirements are applied to automotive manufacturing. If you would like to get in touch about any of the product solutions mentioned above, please contact us at the button below.



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