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Sweden’s Autoliv, Inc. and POC, a leader in cycling protection, have joined forces to study and develop bicycle and e-bike helmets equipped with airbag technology to improve head protection and reduce the consequences of an impact. Head injuries alone account for half of the deadly cyclist injuries. 

The airbag would act as the initial energy absorber while the underlying helmet would be the following energy absorber.

Absorbing technologies enable a reduction of the peak linear head acceleration and significantly reduced head injury risk in impact tests. 

A pre-study by the two companies showed that the protection improvements could be reached without critically compromising the design, weight, or comfort of a helmet designed with integrated airbag technology.

It estimated that the risk for a bicyclist to sustain moderate to fatal head injuries is reduced from 80% to 30% in a 20 km/h (12 mph) impact.

During the pre-study, Autoliv and POC developed the initial concepts by advanced simulation tools and conducted correlated physical crash tests.

The successful outcome of the pre-study will now lead to further testing and refinement with the objective of developing the concept further and potentially bringing a product to the market.

Dr. Cecilia Sunnevång, Vice President Research, Autoliv, says: “Autoliv is committed to the vision of Saving More Lives and to providing world class life-saving solutions for mobility and society. The safety of vulnerable road users, such as bicyclists and e-bike riders, is high on our agenda. Therefore, it was natural to collaborate on this initiative with POC, a leader in bicyclist safety, to explore how to improve helmet protection in current standard testing and more challenging scenarios, such as higher impact speeds.” 

Oscar Huss, Chief Product Officer, POC., adds: “Our safety mission drives everything we do, and we always challenge conventional thinking in order to improve protection. Helmets are tested and certified in a laboratory setting and can never fully address all the real-world variables of bike crashes. Together with Autoliv, who are world-renowned and have some of the most advanced testing and research facilities in the field, we have embarked on a development journey with airbag technology, asking ourselves what could be done to excel in current test scenarios and push the envelope towards even more shock absorbing capacity.” 

Autoliv has formed Mobility Safety Solutions (MSS) to extend its business into new market areas beyond light vehicles and occupant safety.

MSS develops and manufactures mobility safety solutions such as pedestrian protection, battery cut-off switches, connected safety services, and safety solutions for riders of powered two-wheelers.

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