Autoliv Inc. – the global leader in automotive safety systems – announces a new adaptable seatbelt for improved safety for all occupants, especially children. This unique new seat belt can substantially reduce the load on small occupants while also improving the protection for larger occupants. It is a purely mechanical solution that offers adaptability to the occupant size and the severity of a crash at a reasonable cost.
The new seatbelt retractor can tune its restraining force individually to each vehicle occupant and the crash severity – without any sensor. The new adaptive retractor has also proven to provide additional safety for full-sized passenger as the seatbelt webbing is released in a softer way after the crash, reducing the “rebound effect”.
Advances in airbags and seatbelts, together with improved vehicle structures, have progressively reduced casualties in car crashes. However, studies show that occupants travelling in the rear seats, especially children 4-12 years old, have not benefited from these trend as much as larger adults.
“This is another example of our continuous innovation in automotive safety, which has made us the clear market leader. On average, Autoliv supplies two seatbelts to every light vehicle produced in the world. With this new retractor we believe that we can even further strengthen our position”, said Jan Carlson, President and CEO of Autoliv Inc.
By introducing load limiting together with the pretensioners, shoulder belt force can be limited to minimize loading to the neck. However until now the load limiting force has been tuned to fit larger occupants in certain crash situations. Heavier and taller vehicle occupants need higher restraining forces in a crash than a child. A higher load limiting force has been found to be less suitable for children. The adaptivity is provided by a spring-loaded disc in the retractor. The disc has a high number of teeth on both sides, which will slot into and out of the best fitting grooves as it rotates. The faster the webbing is pulled out of the retractor, the more resistant the disc becomes. (Click here to start animation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=swZT3hRQMWQ)).
The new retractor can also help car manufactures to achieve better results in the updated Euro NCAP and US NCAP crash test ratings.