Airbags have been cushioning drivers in accidents since the 1980’s and are now standard equipment on most new cars sold around the world.
With cyclists and motorcyclists being much more vulnerable on the road than their car-enclosed cousins there have been a number of devices designed to bring the protection of an airbag to vehicles of the two-wheeled variety, including the Hit-Air jacket andHonda’s motorcycle airbag. The latest is an airbag collar aimed at cyclists called the Hövding that is worn around the neck and inflates to enclose the rider’s head in the event of an accident.
The brainchild of industrial designers Anna Haupt and Terese Alstin, the Hövding (Swedish for Chieftain) is a collar worn around the neck that allows cyclists to feel the wind in their hair and cycle around town without suffering that most dreaded of afflictions – helmet hair. The device contains a folded airbag that fully inflates with helium in about 0.1 seconds thanks to a built-in gas generator. The air bag is triggered by accelerometers and gyrometers, which detect the “abnormal movement” of the rider in an accident.
To ensure the air bag doesn’t inflate during the normal course of a ride, the designers say they studied the movement patterns of a large number of riders in everyday cycling situations over a number of years. This includes fatal accidents staged with crash test dummies and other accidents staged with male and female stunt riders – check out the video below for some vision of the testing.
Collecting the resultant data they say they have developed a unique, patented, mathematical method that is able to distinguish between normal cycling movements and abnormal movements that would occur in an accident. Although, they do point out that in the unlikely event that an object falls straight down on a rider’s head from above the air bag won’t inflate – so riders will still need to keep an eye out for falling masonry.
- Would you trust an airbag helmet? | Helen Pidd (guardian.co.uk)