Issue: Jun 2006


TRW Automotive Drives Integration of Safety Systems to Help Mitigate Vehicle Rollovers



by James Hilton

TRW Automotive is accelerating the integration of advanced active and passive safety technologies to help drivers mitigate vehicle rollovers and protect passengers in the event a rollover occurs. These technologies are particularly valuable for Sport Utilities and other high-center-of-gravity vehicles.

TRW's integration of rollover mitigation technologies is designed to:

* offer increased anti-roll protection while providing improved vehicle
ride comfort and off-road performance,
* help neutralize a vehicle's tipping sensation, and
* help protect vehicle occupants during rollovers with airbags designed
to deliver superior inflation capabilities.

In addition, TRW Automotive continues to focus on integrating its active and passive safety technologies to reduce the cost and weight of the systems by eliminating redundant components.

"In the wake of rollover accidents and resulting fatalities, particularly in North America where the light truck market has grown significantly in recent years, TRW continues to pursue advances in vehicle safety systems that help mitigate rollover accidents and their effects. In this regard TRW is uniquely positioned with a full portfolio of active and passive safety technologies that we can integrate with the goal of mitigating the occurrence of a rollover and helping to prevent injuries of vehicle occupants during rollovers," said Peter Lake, executive vice president, Sales and Business Development for TRW Automotive.

One focus of TRW Automotive's safety integration effort is the airbag control unit (ACU). The ACU's main component, a V-Sensor Crash Severity Algorithm, utilizes a virtual occupant model to predict an occupant's response to the crash acceleration pulses. Based on occupant information such as weight, size or position to the airbag the model assists in tailoring the system's response to the occupant.

TRW Automotive's latest ACU already provides the flexibility to control a number of passive restraint devices such as airbags and seatbelt pretensioners. For its next generation ACU, TRW is developing a system to integrate and/or combine various control units and sensors used for electronic stability control (ESC), rollover mitigation and rollover protection devices to reduce overall installation, wiring and component costs.

Helping to Keep the Vehicle on the Road

Data collected by NHTSA shows that nearly 90 percent of single-vehicle rollovers occur when a vehicle leaves the roadway, digging its tires into soft soil or striking a curb or guardrail that typically "trips" the vehicle.

To help vehicles remain on the road, TRW Automotive continues to drive the evolution of several active safety technologies:

* Electronic Stability Control (ESC) - This innovative product combines the capabilities of TRW Automotive's anti-lock braking system and traction control technologies with a lateral stability control feature. The system monitors vehicle velocity information such as wheel speeds, yaw rate and lateral acceleration and driver inputs -- steering, throttle and master cylinder pressure -- and proactively applies the brakes to help drivers remain in control during an understeer or oversteer situation. TRW's ESC system is a core product that, when integrated with TRW's electric steering and active suspension technologies, can lead to further vehicle stability and control improvements.

* Active Suspension Safety Systems - This suite of safety technologies developed by TRW Automotive includes its Active Dynamic Control (ADC) and Semi-Active Roll Control (SARC) systems. The ADC system uses stabilizer bars connected to computer-controlled actuators fitted to the front and/or rear stabilizer bars that use hydraulic pressure to reduce body lean and hold the vehicle flatter during cornering. The SARC system decouples from the suspension when the vehicle is traveling in a straight line and engages when the vehicle is cornering. When engaged, the system reduces roll angle and roll propensity for high-center-of-gravity vehicles without sacrificing ride comfort.

* Cold Gas Rollover Inflator - Should a rollover accident occur, TRW Automotive is also helping keep vehicle occupants safe with its innovative technologies such as the TRW Cold Gas Rollover Inflator. A second-generation product, this technology is used in side curtain airbags and was the first inflator on the market to utilize cold gas to inflate the airbag. The combination of cold gas and specially coated curtain airbags allow the bags to stay inflated for up to six seconds to help keep passengers inside the vehicle during a rollover event and assist in mitigating head and other injuries. The technology's simplistic design makes it adaptable for various vehicle


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