New safety data from the ZF Group may encourage other car parts manufacturers to consider working on external airbag technology. ZF finds that external airbags could, in the case of a side collision, reduce the severity of occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent. Drivers in Kentucky should know, however, that it will be a while before these are introduced to public; the technology is far from perfect.
There are concerns, for instance, that the predictive systems linked to the airbags will not detect a crash in time. Airbags may not deploy in the split second before the crash, or they may even deploy at unnecessary times. To address these concerns, ZF is pointing to rapid advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology.
ZF is developing a concrete strategy for the development of external airbags. Its current model goes on a vehicle's sides and acts as an additional crumple zone. Like a pillow, it's meant to absorb the shock of a side impact crash. It is approximately 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide, and it weighs about 13 pounds.
Dimensions will vary with the vehicles. Despite the size, the inflation time of 15 milliseconds compares favorably with that of steering wheel airbags.
Until self-driving cars become a reality, no amount of safety tech can protect against negligence. Victims of negligent driving may want to see a lawyer about filing a claim. Third parties might come in to conduct crash reconstruction or to show how all the reported injuries are tied to the accident.
The lawyer may then speak on victims' behalf at the negotiation table or in the courtroom. If successful, victims might receive damages that cover medical bills, vehicle damage, lost wages and more. If the defendant was reckless, victims may sue for punitive damages.