Science: Health: Accident Protection: Inflatable
Bumper Airbags   (+6, -1)  [vote for, against]
Prevent death from rear-ending

We've all been there. The sharp braking manoever which results in a quick glance in the rear-view mirror only to see a horrified face in the vehicle behind as they realise your brakes are better than theirs, and a collision is inevitable. If we could manufacture cars with an airbag (vey large and very strong) which would inflate to cover the whole rear of your vehicle once the sensors detected a coming impact, then there would be less dead people around. Could also come with a logo emblazoned..."If you are close enough to read this then...."[insert witticism here]). Seriously, we devote a lot of time to protecting the occupants from within, why not without?
-- Skybird, Mar 19 2001

http://www.patentst...6923483/claims.html A patent, issued four years after this idea was written [hippo, Feb 04 2010] How this would work, and an appeal for funding [hippo, Feb 04 2010] Another patent. I particularly like the drawing of the upset female driver. [hippo, Feb 04 2010] These guys were doing bumper airbags back in 1994 [hippo, Feb 04 2010]

There have been moves to remove cow bars from cars to avoid excessive damage to pedestrians in collisions, especially in areas where there are no cows and lots of people on foot. Air bags could potentially save a pedestrian if the correct size and shape inflated in time. However I reckon most crashes would be more or less unique.
-- Aristotle, Mar 19 2001

And then about 15 minutes cooling time, before you can add the frosting.
-- centauri, Mar 20 2001

(centauri, that has to be the single most bang-for-buck humorous annotation ever. bravo, man! I'm just imagining trying to frost an inflated airbag. lol)
-- absterge, Mar 23 2001

These airbags could be used as protection in car-to-car crashes, using radar or ultrasound to detect an impending collision. This may be especially useful in small city cars (such as a-class merc and smart car with engines under floor) which have very small crumple zones. Also different materials could be used inside the bag. For example, if the radar/US detects a fast collision with a large object (eg bus, SUV, train, Vanessa Feltz), a dense foam or gel could be used. For smaller impacts (eg medium sized dog, small child) a softer air filled bag could be used.
-- timo, Jul 17 2002

I think the problem is the "impending" collision aspect. Passenger airbags need to be inflated before the passenger hits them to be effective; the shock of the impact triggers them. For external impacts, they need to be triggered and inflated before the gap between vehicles drops below the total inflated diameter of the airbag for the energy-absorbing effect to work. And they mustn't misfire in all those "not quite" hard-braking manouvers that everyone has from time to time, otherwise it will get expensive in replacement airbags. Replacement airbags are not cheap items. An airbag that will decelerate a car will have quite different characteristics from one that would protect a pedestrian, so you'd have pedestrian-protectors at the front and car-protectors at the rear of vehicles.

All passenger airbags, no matter how sophisticated, are a very poor substitute for decent 5-point harnesses, which is what I have fitted in my vehicles. They take a little longer to put on and release, but they are so much more effective.

"For smaller impacts (eg medium sized dog, small child) a softer air filled bag could be used" ..... and for cats, I would like the bag filled with rocks, please. Sharp, pointy rocks. Big ones.
-- 8th of 7, Jul 17 2002

I thinks for cats you could have a special padded 'cat-catcher' in the style of a 'cow-catcher' used on old trains, so as not to harm the cute little kitties.
-- timo, Jul 17 2002

Excuse me, but if you will just take the trouble to remove your rose-tinted virtual reality goggles for a moment, you will be able to see that the yowling scratchy bad-tempered insanitary @rse-licking verminous flea-hotel presently employing your garden as its personal open-air cesspit prior to leaving little muddy pawprints all over your clean car and murdering the local wild songbird population is nothing more than a blight on the face of our fair planet, and should be removed.

The little doggies, and hedgehogs, yes - a nice soft padded scooper thing yto lift them gently out of the way, but for cats, I want a big boxing glove, with spikes. Or a mallet.
-- 8th of 7, Jul 17 2002

8th of 7: You could do that, but you'd risk a lot of people installing anti-8th of 7 mallets on the front of their cars.
-- pottedstu, Jul 17 2002

<Thinks> Aha ! I could wear a cat costume whenver I went out ....
-- 8th of 7, Jul 17 2002

Igot so happy to hear about bumper airbag. I made an airfilled bumper few years ago,and it worked so nice .An accident to anoter car caused no damage to both cars!!! All cars may use this kind of bumper instead of original ones Behzad Hamidi
-- bezadhamidi, Nov 27 2002

I have been working on a car communication system for the year 2015 for a class project. I believe that radar controlled smart cruise control systems will be ubiquitous in the next 10 years. These system also allow for the use of external air bags. It would only inflate on an impending impact, not based on de-acceleration of the vehicle.
-- bma449, May 02 2006

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