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Not what you think it is
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Since some cars already have a proximity detector to alert you when you are approaching an obstacle, could this system be merged with the speedometer to detect when you are about to have a high-speed crash and take appropriate action?

By appropriate action I was thinking that the car battery could be disconnected to avoid igniting any fuel that has leaked out. I was even thinking that the fuel tank could be arranged in such a way that it could be jettisoned/dumped onto the road (or on the side of the road preferably).

pooduck, Jul 28 2005

(?) EXPLOSAFE Explosion Suppression System http://www.explosafe.com/
A matrix of expanded aluminum alloy foil, to fit any container/fuel tank. [baconbrain, Jul 28 2005]


       I'd be worried about the loss of power stearing.   

       The battery cut-off would be the very last resort and could occur just before impact.   

       Besides, power steering(?) won't be much good when your car blows up.
pooduck, Jul 28 2005

       I'm thinking it'd be safer to leave the fuel tank right where it is. An inertial cutoff of the fuel supply would help to minimize catastrophic conflagration. Maybe some sort of fire retardant foam or gelling agent could be dumped in to the fuel tank instead of just tossing the whole thing in to the street? Maybe shut off the fuel pump pre-crash? There could be enough residual pressure in the fuel rails of a typical fuel injected engine to permit the engine to run for a couple of seconds.   

       I don't think such a system could be sufficiently reliable if shoehorned in to the economy of the average automobile. If such an anticipatory system could work, there might be better preemptive actions that could be taken. External airbags maybe, a pole vaulting system that would throw the car over and clear of the obstacle, a mechanism to fill the cabin neck high with a dense foam or even liquid to, er, dampen the shock?
half, Jul 28 2005

       I was going to suggest external shock protection but it seemed a bit too similar to the one on Demolition Man.   

       I don't know though, preventing fuel ignition would make it much safer for the emergency services to get close to a crash scene.   

       Also, although the pole-vault may work for car-car crashes, if you were heading for a rather tall building it would make matters infinitely worse.
pooduck, Jul 28 2005

       Oh, certainly it would make it safer for emergency services, but I don't see any proposal for how you would eject it to a location that wouldn't cause collateral damage in several forms. Additionally, you'd have to have some sort of propellant or serious mechanism on board to cause the tank to drop at near zero velocity. Otherwise, it's quite likely to catch up with you.   

       Surely there is some substance that can be introduced to render gasoline less explosive.   

       Driving a diesel powered vehicle would help reduce the exploding fuel risk to some extent. Compared to gasoline, that stuff is seriously tough to light.
half, Jul 28 2005

       I agree that your idea of surpresssing the flammable nature of fuel is a far better one than dumping the fuel tank.   

       I was thinking the tank could shoot out sideways onto the side of the road to maximise distance but that would still be dangerous.
pooduck, Jul 28 2005

       The EXPLOSAFE System expanded metal is used in a lot of homebuilt aircraft fuel tanks. See link. It should be used in cars, which are in accidents a lot more often.   

       The idea that gasoline tanks often explode is mostly a Hollywood fantasy. Most cars are designed with strong gasoline tanks.   

       How about a couple of Halon bottles strapped to the car frame, designed so that they crack open on impact?
baconbrain, Jul 28 2005

       yeah great, then u can suffocate when ur stuck in the wreckage.
jonplackett, Jul 28 2005


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