TRW has unveiled its new adaptive side airbag technology. The airbags feature a 'flexi adaptive vent' which the company says can help to enhance the protection of occupants according to different crash severities.

Norbert Kagerer, vice president of engineering for TRW's Occupant Safety Systems business, said: "Adaptive occupant safety technologies began with the introduction of dual stage inflators over a decade ago and have progressed to include factors such as deployment force, bag geometry, stiffness and shape as the bag deploys.

"For example, TRW is already in production with its 'SAVe' active venting system for passenger frontal airbags that adapts to the position of the passenger and will soften the airbag through supplemental vents in the airbag module to allow some of the gases to be expelled when the passenger is in closer proximity to the airbag when it deploys.

"TRW's latest generation of adaptive side airbags can also now adjust restraint performance according to parameters such as the speed and force of the crash. It is one of our more advanced airbag technologies and is designed to enhance the protection of occupants in common side impact crashes."

With TRW's new side airbag system, a tether mechanism inside the airbag can close the vent during a more severe crash where the intrusion level on the side of the vehicle is typically greater. This helps to maintain pressure in the airbag for a longer duration and thus absorb more energy during a high severity impact. It also helps to reduce the probability of 'bottoming out' between the door trim and the occupant.

TRW anticipates that its next generation adaptive side airbags will be ready for production in 2013.