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Honda Patents Motorcycle Airbag That Detaches with Rider in a Crash

But can it inflate fast enough to envelop the rider in an accident?

Motorcycles have long been a favorite mode of transportation for many people looking to hit the open road, despite the fact that crashes involving them can be far more serious. In fact the National Safety Council says that, “although motorcycles make up only 3% of all registered vehicles and 0.6% of all vehicle miles traveled in the United States, motorcyclists accounted for 14% of all traffic fatalities.”

Individual outcomes are often improved through the use of protective gear – particularly helmets – and, more recently, the use of vests and jackets with airbags built in and designed to inflate in the event of a crash.

But Cycle World  has recently reported on a new design that Honda believes will add another safety system to the mix.

According to a recent patent filing, Honda has designed a motorcycle airbag that will be mounted to the cycle itself – a concept that already exists but has some drawbacks. According to Cycle World, in order to work effectively, traditional designs require riders to be sitting in very “predictable positions” and work best in head-on collisions. But wearable devices, such as vests, often limit riders’ clothing choices, says Cycle World, and are limited in size.

But Honda’s new patent describes a combination of  the two – in a way they feel will be appealing and effective. The vehicle mounted device is designed to trigger a mechanism to wrap around the driver in the event of a crash. Secondly, the airbag will reportedly travel with the rider throughout the incident, instead of staying with the bike.

While the patent details two different options for the placement of an inflator, both reportedly focus on the airbag’s protection of the rider’s chest. In either design, sensors in the inflators can detect when the system begins to fill, at which point it detaches from the cycle itself and stays with the rider.

According to Ben Purvis, author of the Cycle World report, “While there’s no guarantee that a patent will become a viable product, Honda’s idea seems to be sound, provided the airbag can be inflated fast enough to envelop the rider in an accident.”

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