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Self-Bracing Car

 - May 31, 2008
References: technology.newscientist
Every safety device counts when it comes to car collisions. A safety feature that is activated before impact rather than after, as with air bags, would be extremely useful in saving lives. European engineers have now crash-tested a car equipped with improved sensors and computing which can predict a collision about 230 milliseconds before it occurs. A temporary metal bracing bar is sprung into place in 70 milliseconds to provide additional bracing to strengthen the car frame and transfer the impact energy to the "unstruck" side of the vehicle.

The test video shows a car hitting a barrier at a speed of 50 km/hr. "The intrusion velocity was considerably reduced." The bracing system was successfully deployed and reduced the barrier penetration by about 10 centimetres . This may not seem like much but bear in mind there is very little in between passengers and penetrating objects with side collisions.

The beam cannot be built into car door itself because it gets in the way of lowered windows nor is it retractable yet. The on-board system which consists of radars and stereo cameras mounted in the back window plus software would also have to be factored into the economics of car manufacturing.