SEOUL, South Korea—Hyundai Mobis announced that it completed the development of an inter-seat airbag, which reduces head injuries to passengers by more than 80% during a lateral collision.

Due to the development of this airbag, Hyundai Mobis went a step further from preventing primary damages due to an external collision and can now secure the maximum safety of passengers by preventing an internal collision between passengers due to inertia. In particular, as the airbags can now encase individual passengers depending on accident types, safety is expected to be enhanced to a great extent.

An inter-seat airbag is basically intended to protect passengers on the opposite side of the contact point. In case of a lateral collision, the passenger near the contact point can be protected by the curtain airbag or the side airbag, but the person next to him/her may sustain a critical injury as he/she bumps their head against the other passenger’s shoulder or head, or the seat due to inertia. As these kinds of cases have been continuously reported, the European automotive safety evaluation program, Euro NCAP, stated back in 2014 that it strongly recommends inter-seat airbags.

For example, when a large 1,350kg car collides into the driver’s side at a speed of 50km/h, the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) for the head of the passenger far from the contact point is 1,700~1900, two or three times greater than the HIC of the driver, which is 600~800. HIC 1,000, a Euro safety standard, corresponds to a serious injury, e.g. the fracture of the skull.

The inter-seat airbag, developed by Hyundai Mobis, reduces the Head Injury Criterion (HIC) sustained by the head of the passenger in the same situation by more than 80% to about HIC 300. As the inter-seat airbag installed to the right of the driver’s seat is deployed, the head of the passenger contacts the airbag cushion, not the driver’s shoulder, and the passenger receives an impact that will cause only a light abrasion. This is much lower than HIC 500, Euro NCAP’s top safety level, and safer than those of global competitors.

Also, Hyundai Mobis is about to complete the development of the technology for the ‘dual mode’ for the collision between the driver and the passenger, and the ‘single mode’ for the lateral collision in case the driver is alone in the car. Even though the driver may be alone in the car, if there is a strong enough collision from the right-hand side, the driver will be thrown towards the passenger’s seat due to inertia. At this time, the driver will bump his/her head against the thrusting contact surface on some occasions. So it is also important to address the single mode. For this reason, Euro NCAP has been considering undergoing collision safety evaluations from 2020 with respect to the single mode.

In particular, Hyundai Mobis will soon introduce an integrated technology for responding to the two collision modes, i.e. single and dual, with a single inter-seat airbag module. Unlike competitors who respond to the single and dual mode with respective airbags, Hyundai Mobis is planning to integrate the two modes with one module and differentiate itself from global competition by greatly enhancing the technology level and cost competitiveness.

“The number of active safety devices that can prevent accidents, such as Active BSD, LKAS and AEB, is increasing, but the importance of traditional safety devices like airbags and safety belts has never decreased,” said Hyundai Mobis. “The development of the inter-seat airbag will enable us to gain a competitive edge in the global market, and transform ourselves from being a Fast Follower into a Global Leader.”