When you think of motorcycles and airbag technology in 2021, you’re probably thinking about wearable items. A variety of options from the likes of Alpinestars, Dainese, Helite and others have been around for some time, usually for riders to wear on their torso. As far as OEM motorcycle airbag safety solutions though, Honda introduced its first airbag system on the Gold Wing in 2006—and so far, that’s been it.
Until now, that is. On November 4, 2021, automotive airbag company Autoliv and Piaggio Group announced that they’d signed a joint development agreement to develop an airbag system for powered two-wheelers.
No further details are available at this time, other than the statement that “the airbags will be mounted on the vehicle frame and will deploy in milliseconds.” Piaggio Group includes the Piaggio, Vespa, Aprilia, and Moto Guzzi brands, so it’s not clear whether the pair will initially focus its efforts on motorcycles, scooters, or both.
According to the companies’ statement on the matter, Autoliv has already been developing its first concepts, and has gone so far as to conduct full-scale crash tests. The next step will be further development of the product alongside Piaggio Group, and with an eye toward potential commercialization in the future.
"Autoliv is committed to our vision of Saving More Lives and to providing world class life-saving solutions for mobility and society. Therefore, we are developing products that specifically protect vulnerable road users. The development of these products is an integral part of our sustainability agenda and an important step towards our goal of saving 100,000 lives a year by 2030,” Autoliv president and CEO Mikael Bratt said in a statement.
This isn’t Autoliv’s first foray into the motorcycle space. In September, 2021, Autoliv previously filed another motorcycle safety-related patent, regarding a set of breakaway handlebars to help riders avoid injury during crashes. Since it’s early days for both these projects, we likely will have some time to wait before we see either one enter the market as tangible safety items that can protect everyday riders. As and when we learn more, we will of course keep you up to date.