Ford is set to introduce an all-new passenger knee airbag system in the 2015 Ford Mustang. The inflatable airbag restraint is packaged inside the glove box door, providing for protection in a smaller, lighter package.
An inflatable plastic bladder is integrated into the glove box door and provides front passenger knee protection similar to a conventional knee airbag mounted under the instrument panel. Unlike a traditional fabric airbag, the new system consists of a pliable, injection-molded plastic bladder, which is sandwiched between the inner/outer glovebox door panels.
When activated following an impact, an inflator fills the bladder, extending the entire glovebox outer door panel toward the front passenger’s legs. Once deployed, the outer door helps to provide cushioning in a manner similar to a traditional knee airbag.
Since the glovebox-integrated airbag extends straight out from the instrument panel, it doesn’t have to travel as far as a conventional airbag, which deploys toward the floor before curving upward. Because the new design distributes the impact load over a larger area than a traditional airbag, lower inflation pressures are needed.
Ford says the system is 65% lighter – with an inflator that is approximately 75% smaller – than a conventional knee airbag inflator, while providing comparable protection to the passenger.
The automaker adds that other applications for this unique and patented technology – which allows airbags to be placed in new locations inside the vehicle and provides more freedom to vehicle designers – are being considered.