Airbag-equipped jackets are nothing new. In fact, in the world of racing, it's practically a mandated piece of equipment, and street riders are quickly adopting this life-saving tech to their daily riding essentials. So yes, airbag vest and jackets are awesome—but what about an airbag helmet?
As strange as it sounds, an airbag helmet is well and truly under development, but not for the motorbike industry just yet. POC, a popular bicycle helmet maker, is working with Autoliv, an automotive equipment manufacturer, to develop a cutting edge bike helmet with airbag technology. Both companies are based out of Sweden, and being quite familiar with POC's products as an avid cyclist myself, I know just how intensely these guys handle their R&D. Now, as for Autoliv, the company is known for its exploits in automotive and motorcycle safety innovation, with tech such as ejectable handlebars and built-in motorbike airbags.
So, how exactly does POC and Autoliv's helmet airbag system work? Well, the concept suggests that the airbag mechanism will be placed in between the shell and the EPS liner. Once it deploys, say, if the system detects a crash, it will automatically spread the helmets hull, made up of several pieces, and offer some much-needed cushioning for the head inside the helmet thanks to the fluffy airbag. The first tests suggest that the tech can reduce the risk of head injury from 80 to 30 percent, at speeds of 12 miles per hour.
Now, from a bicycling point of view, this makes perfect sense, as bike helmets are usually lightweight, and only occupy the upper portion of your head. The same isn't true for motorbike helmets, though. For starters, the notion of having an airbag system within a full-face helmets makes me wonder if your head could implode should such system deploy. Granted, of course, manufacturers will develop tech that prevents this from happening.
Then there's the issue of clumsy folks who tend to drop their helmets. Surely, if a motorbike helmet with this kind of hull-splitting tech is invented, it would mean that it'll no longer be suitable for use once the airbag inadvertently deploys after falling off a chair, or rolling off your bike's seat.
Having said all that, it's clear that POC and Autoliv's innovation is focused towards the cycling world, and even more so at the rapidly growing e-bike movement, where regulations and restrictions towards high-powered electric two-wheelers can only do so much in preventing people from hurting themselves. In the world of motorcycles, however, such tech has yet to make it to the mainstream. That said, it could very well pave the way for some super high-tech motorcycle helmet of the future.