German auto-parts manufacturer ZF recently developed new external airbags that aim to reduce the severity of injuries linked to traffic accidents. Developed for the sides of cars, the external airbag system deploys when a car gets t-boned and essentially turns the side of the vehicle into a crumple zone that absorbs the energy from an impact. The system hopes to keep both drivers in an accident safe and internal tests have already shown a reduction in the severity of injuries by up to 40 percent.
Much like internal airbags, ZF's external airbags deploy in the same way and are made of the same fabric as regular airbags. These qualities are key to the airbag concept as it can be easily deployed into existing manufacturing processes and serviced in the same way. The airbags are however two to three times larger than standard internal offerings.