TRW has unveiled side impact airbags that help adapt occupant protection to the variables of a crash including occupant size and crash severity.

The 3D Side Airbag and the Inward Side Impact Airbag (SIAB) are both designed to result in rapid deployment to protect a full spectrum of passengers in outboard seating positions.

"As with frontal airbags, TRW is continuously seeking to develop technologies that adjust according to the unique variables of seat position, passenger size and position, the amount of energy created from the crash pulse and more," said Norbert Kagerer, vice president, engineering, TRW Occupant Safety Systems.

"Side protection is particularly challenging given the very small amount of time in which the crash must be sensed and the airbag deployed - typically in the 15 to 20 millisecond range - so anything we can do to help safely speed up the time in which the airbag contacts the body is potentially very valuable."

The inward SIAB configuration - that deploys through a seam in the seat and uses the seat foam as further cushion - offers a number of benefits across crash scenarios, according to TRW. 

TRW says that tests show that it delivers improved homogeneous restraint values across body regions and the amount of time between crash sensing and occupant restraint has been lowered. 

The new inward SIAB also has positioning and packaging advantages in tight vehicle cabins such as small cars, it is claimed.

The three-dimensional side airbag designs can offer the potential for more rapid contact with the occupant in side crashes and tests have shown significant improvement in restraint performance, TRW says. 

"TRW remains a leader in the design and development of side and curtain airbags with the aim of helping to protect passengers across a wide range of vehicles, passengers and crash types. These new side impact designs demonstrate our continuing commitment to the occupant safety market and we expect that advances in the active safety front that can predict a potentially imminent crash before it occurs will help to further enhance side impact protection," Kagerer added.