The ZF Group is one of many car parts manufacturers that are developing external airbags. The safety tech has yet to be perfected, so residents of Pennsylvania should not expect new vehicles to be equipped with them just yet. Nevertheless, the benefits of external airbags are clear.
ZF has calculated that external airbags can reduce the injury severity of auto crashes by as much as 40 percent. The manufacturer's own model of external airbags, which go on the sides of a vehicle, act as an additional crumple zone that can mitigate collision damage by absorbing some of the shock.
The airbags are meant to link to a predictive system that recognizes when a crash is impending. Unlike other predictive systems, which can tighten seatbelts or adjust a vehicle's suspension, this one will provide a more drastic solution, so there are concerns. One is that the airbags will not deploy in time, and another is that they will deploy at inappropriate times.
Advances in camera and sensor technology, including lidar and radar technology, may effectively address these challenges, according to ZF. However, the developer's external airbags already impress many with their inflation time of 15 milliseconds. This is comparable to that of steering wheel airbags. However, the external airbags are much larger (approximately 80 by 15 by 21 inches).
In the event of a car accident, airbags and other safety tech may mitigate injuries and damage, but they cannot prevent them. Someone who has been hurt by a negligent driver can therefore seek compensation for damages. Filing a claim with an auto insurance company, however, can be hard without a lawyer. Legal counsel could handle all settlement negotiations and take a case to court as a last resort.