Side impact protection system

European research scientists claim they have developed an intelligent side impact protection system that is said to dramatically reduce the risk of injury.

The system uses a combination of cameras and radar sensors to identify a potential danger and to then deploy the safety system. Cameras integrated in the doors identify the car that will cause the accident and radar sensors in the car’s wings measure how far away the car is. Then, 200ms before the crash, the side impact protection system is activated.
The system – a product of the EU project APROSYS, or Advanced Protection Systems – was developed by Fraunhofer researchers, in cooperation with universities, car manufacturers and suppliers. “Our goal was to improve the active crash safety of motor vehicles – that is, to adapt the technical properties of the car body in such a way that it absorbs energy at the crucial moment and thus protects the occupants,” says project manager Björn Seipel of the Fraunhofer Institute for Structural Durability and System Reliability LBF.
“The system has to distinguish moving objects – meaning other cars that could potentially cause an accident – from stationary objects,” explains Dr Dieter Willersinn of the Fraunhofer Institute for Information and Data Processing IITB. His team has developed a software program capable of predicting a lateral collision about 200ms before the crash.
An impulse generated by a central computer releases a surge of electricity that heats a wire made of a shape memory alloy.
“We opted for this solution because it is faster than any conventional solenoid switch,” says Seipel. The heat bends the wire, which then releases a spring and deploys the safety system.

Graham Pitcher

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