TRW Automotive has launched a new head protection system for convertible vehicles.

It is the first to be located in the seat mount rather than the door trim and is designed to offer head protection for the unique characteristics of convertibles.

The system combines a thorax or pelvic-thorax module together with a head restraint module located in the upper seat back. It is due to be launched with "a major European vehicle manufacturer" imminently, TRW said.

Alexander Heilig, European engineering director for the supplier's occupant safety systems business, said: "The [system] has an innovative product design with two separate airbag safety systems for both head and torso protection. The two systems are designed to deploy in the event of a side impact or rollover accident. They work independently to allow individual tuning of the different protection zones yet operate from common sensors."

Both the head protection and thorax modules use a light-weight plastic housing, with the module located under the fabric and foam of the seat.

The head restraint module works with a hybrid gas inflator that enables it to deploy rapidly and remain inflated for a longer duration than other traditional airbags. This inflator was originally developed to meet global requirement for a low cost head protection system for the small car market.

TRW said it was developing a range of occupant protection systems to support the growing market of convertible vehicles.