Ford has filed a second patent application for roof-mounted airbags aimed at offering added crash protection to vehicle occupants.
The automaker filed a patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) in 2021 (it was published in late 2022) showing roof-mounted airbags that deploy from a vehicle’s headliner and surround the occupants. Now a second application has appeared showing a similar concept.
Published on Jan. 26, 2023, this second patent application focuses on airbags that could cover the space between the front seats and dashboard. Unlike the previous application, which described elaborate round enclosures that would drop down from the headliner and blanket occupants, this version shows a simpler curtain-like airbag that would deploy in front of the driver and front-seat occupant.
While the application seems to focus on a front-row use case, it seems like this design could be used in the second and third rows as well. Ford even shows the interior of a three-row vehicle in one of the accompanying drawings.
Unlike the previous version, though, this design seems less specifically aimed at autonomous vehicles, something Ford mentioned in the first patent application. That application also depicted roof-mounted airbags in a vehicle with inboard-facing seats, something we’re not seeing here. Ford has curtailed its autonomous-driving research somewhat since the first application was published, including ending investment in Argo AI.
This second application might represent an attempt to re-tool the technology for conventional vehicles, then. Ford is still working on this, having also filed a patent application for an external airbag system that would deploy from behind a vehicle’s grille during collisions. It remains to be seen if any of these novel airbag systems will reach production, however.
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