Issue: Dec 2006


TRW Introduces Non-Rotating Driver Airbag Technology



by Steve Barclay

TRW Introduces Non-Rotating Driver Airbag Technology, this next-generation steering wheel system increases the protection potential during different crash configurations, particularly for vehicles with extreme angled windshields and/or A-pillars in oblique crashes. This advanced system also enhances a vehicle's comfort and design.

Mehran Khazami, European engineering director for driver airbags and steering wheel systems, explained: "New car designs and safety regulations have challenged vehicle manufacturers to rethink the shape of the driver's side airbag. A crash simulation, based on regulated industry tests, showed that TRW's asymmetrical airbag technology provides very impressive safety benefits."

In addition to the safety benefits, having a stationary steering module allows automotive designers to add more convenience and aesthetic features to the steering wheel system. The non-rotating driver airbag module can accommodate the use of multifunction switches that remain in the same location, even when the steering wheel is being turned. Additional design elements and parts of the instrument panel display can also be integrated into the steering wheel module.

In order to uncouple the rotation of the steering wheel from the driver airbag module, TRW has developed a system with a circumferential gear to keep the airbag module in a stationary position.

The system utilizes direct force transmission from the steering wheel spokes into the steering column. This improves steering feel by giving the driver less resistance when the wheel is turned. Both steering wheel and steering column will maintain the same center and number of rotations; this eliminates the need to synchronize the number of rotations between wheel and steering column.

TRW's asymmetrical airbag has been launched with a major European vehicle manufacturer.

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