All-new Ford Mustang features world’s first glove box airbag

Airbags are an important car safety feature, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that they have saved over 42,856 lives since first being introduced more than 35 years ago.

Now, car manufacture Ford has gone back to the drawing board to develop an innovative new airbag system specifically designed to protect your knees, whilst also affording more room for passengers and reducing the overall car weight to improve fuel efficiency.

The all-new Ford Mustang is the first vehicle to be kitted out with this new airbag, which is integrated within the door of the glove box, instead of the instrument panel. Rather than being made of textile fabric, the new design is constructed from moulded plastic and sandwiched between the outer and inner glove box door surfaces.

Ford's new airbag design is lighter and more compact than woven fabric knee airbags mounted under the instrument panel.
Ford’s new airbag design is lighter and more compact than woven fabric knee airbags mounted under the instrument panel.

It is just 46 centimetres long, 28 centimetres wide and weighs 65 per cent less than a conventional knee airbag, but has still been awarded the highest-possible safety standard by authorities.

In the event of a collision, a tiny gas generator inside the glove box door inflates the bladder in just 20 milliseconds, pushing the door exterior outwards to provide leg protection.

“With this design we were able to combine the functions of two separate parts into one single part to save on space, weight and components; and move the instrument panel further forward, ensuring there was more room for the front passenger.” said Ford restraints manager Sean West. He added: “Our glove box airbag opens up a whole new world of possibilities for injection-moulded plastic airbags. The glove box airbag could be just the beginning.”

The company is now actively testing future uses of the weight-saving technology that employs a plastic bladder rather than a textile fabric, and has so far been granted 23 patents.

To find out more about how Ford’s new glove box airbag works, check out the video below…

Discover more amazing transport tech in the latest issue of How It Works magazine. It’s available from all good retailers, or you can order it online from the ImagineShop. If you have a tablet or smartphone, you can also download the digital version onto your iOS or Android device. To make sure you never miss an issue of How It Works magazine, make sure you subscribe today!

Plus take a look at:

Inside the Ford factory

How to make a car in 86 seconds

How power assisted steering takes the strain out of driving