Ford Files Patent for Advanced Airbag Protection

December 2nd, 2023 by

NYE Ford 2023 Ford Concept

Photo Source: Ford

On November 23, 2023, Ford Motor Company filed a patent for a reclined vehicle occupant airbag. The airbag assembly involves a bed having a reclined position in which the bed is elongated along an axis. The bed includes a first and second side with the axis between each side. The bed in the reclined position also has a first end and a second end spaced from each other along the axis. It incorporates an occupant support surface between the first and second end of the bed. 

Moreover, the assembly integrates an airbag that is inflatable from an uninflated position to an inflated position. The airbag is housed in the first end in the uninflated position. On the other hand, in the inflated position, the airbag has an arch shape between the first side of the bed and the second side of the bed. The arch is elongated along the axis from the first end toward the second end above the occupant support surface.

Other Airbag Patents

According to Ford Authority, this is not the first patent the Blue Oval has filed regarding airbags. As a matter of fact, Ford recently filed an application for a floor-mounted airbag system that would surround passengers on all sides during a collision. The curtain airbags would be designed to protect passengers in frontal and side impacts. The primary difference between the patents is the posture of the occupant. While the latest patent assumes the occupant is lying flat, the floor-mounted system requires occupants to be sitting upright. 

In addition, housed underneath the floor, the airbags would deploy when sensors detect a crash. They would be made to inflate at least up to the top of the seats and possibly extend farther up to the vehicle’s roof. Extending to the roof could possibly have the additional capability of keeping cargo in the back of SUVs, vans, and some pickup trucks. On impact, a set of tubes would straighten to extend the leg compartment forward and provide room for the airbags to inflate. 

They might only partially inflate, for example, at just the feet or the head of the passengers, depending on the type and severity of the collision. Interestingly, the reclined vehicle occupant airbag patent makes no mention of partial inflation. Instead, perhaps due to the positions of the passengers, the airbags likely provide cocoon-like protection. While described to function in any vehicle–passenger or commercial–the floor-mounted patent specifically mentions autonomous vehicles equipped with seats free to rotate during the operation of the vehicle.

This might allow the occupants of the seats to face each other and to interact. It might also allow all of the occupants to relax, focus on vehicle amenities, and interact with one another. To that end, an occupant might be seated in a personal mobility device like a wheelchair that could be positioned in the vehicle in several directions. 

Autonomous Automobiles

Like the floor-mounted airbag patent, the reclined vehicle occupant airbag suggests that the automaker is looking to the future regarding its safety innovations. To clarify, for the all-new patent to work, it would require a fully-autonomous vehicle capable of being outfitted with beds that passengers could occupy while being driven to their destination. The layout of the airbag might have to take shape in different designs until an efficient one is devised. It is worth noting that this airbag application will probably come to fruition far into the future, but the brand can patent an idea to guarantee competitors do not take the concept first.

If you are intrigued by Ford’s futuristic notions, please come visit NYE Ford. Are you looking for a new option to buy or lease? Take a look at our new vehicle inventory or our quality pre-owned vehicles. Stop by and see what we can do for you right now.