By Steve Hoefer
Safety isn’t always the first thing on the mind of makers but the faster you go, the faster your safety devices need to be. A modern airbag can deploy 10 times faster than your reflexes can react, but it’s a lot more than an on-demand balloon. It’s a collection of inventions, made over decades, integrated to do a lot of complicated work in a blink of an eye.
In this episode of Make: Inventions I do my best to make an airbag system that can detect a crash and deploy safely in 1/20th of a second. It takes sewing, metalworking, woodworking, programing, electronics, and pyrotechnics, some of which I had to learn along the way. And to be sure it works I break out the high-speed camera and build a crash test rig 15 feet high and 40 feet long.
The patents most referenced in this video:
- #5,265,904 “Airbag cover with integral horn switch”
- #5,071,161 “Air bag restraint system with venting means”
- #3,414,292 “Inflatable Safety Device”
The code and schematic I used are also available.
See all projects in the series here.