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- As a result of the concern for the growing number of air-bag-induced injuries and fatalities, the administrators of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) agreed to a cooperative effort that "leverages NHTSA's expertise in motor vehicle safety restraint systems and biomechanics with NASAs position as one of the leaders in advanced technology development... to enable the state of air bag safety technology to advance at a faster pace..." They signed a NASA/NHTSA memorandum of understanding for NASA to "evaluate air bag to assess advanced air bag performance, establish the technological potential for improved technology (smart) air bag systems, and identify key expertise and technology within the agency (i.e., NASA) that can potentially contribute significantly to the improved effectiveness of air bags." NASA is committed to contributing to NHTSAs effort to: (1) understand and define critical parameters affecting air bag performance; (2) systematically assess air bag technology state of the art and its future potential; and (3) identify new concepts for air bag systems. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) was selected by NASA to respond to the memorandum of understanding by conducting an advanced air bag technology assessment. JPL analyzed the nature of the need for occupant restraint, how air bags operate alone and with safety belts to provide restraint, and the potential hazards introduced by the technology. This analysis yielded a set of critical parameters for restraint systems. The researchers examined data on the performance of current air bag technology, and searched for and assessed how new technologies could reduce the hazards introduced by air bags while providing the restraint protection that is their primary purpose. The critical parameters which were derived are: (1) the crash severity; (2) the use of seat belts; (3) the physical characteristics of the occupants; (4) the proximity of the occupants to the airbag module; (5) the deployment time, which includes the time to sense the need for deployment, the inflator response parameters, the air bag response, and the reliability of the air bag. The requirements for an advanced air bag technology is discussed. These requirements includes that the system use information related to: (1) the crash severity; (2) the status of belt usage; (3) the occupant category; and (4) the proximity to the air bag to adjust air bag deployment. The parameters for the response of the air bag are: (1) deployment time; (2) inflator parameters; and (3) air bag response and reliability. The state of occupant protection advanced technology is reviewed. This review includes: the current safety restraint systems, and advanced technology characteristics. These characteristics are summarized in a table, which has information regarding the technology item, the potential, and an date of expected utilization. The use of technology and expertise at NASA centers is discussed. NASA expertise relating to sensors, computing, simulation, propellants, propulsion, inflatable systems, systems analysis and engineering is considered most useful. Specific NASA technology developments, which were included in the study are: (1) a capacitive detector; (2) stereoscopic vision system; (3) improved crash sensors; (4) the use of the acoustic signature of the crash to determine crash severity; and (5) the use of radar antenna for pre-crash sensing. Information relating to injury risk assessment is included, as is a summary of the areas of the technology which requires further development.
- Other Subject(s):
- NASA Technical Reports Server (NTRS) Collection.
- Document ID: 19990018952.
- No Copyright.
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