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ZF reveals benefits of external airbag tech

Some Virginia drivers may have heard about external airbags. While the technology is a long way from being perfected, much less implemented on new vehicles, its benefits are clear and may encourage more car parts manufacturers to consider it. One of these manufacturers, the ZF Group, has found that in the event of a side impact crash, external airbags could reduce occupants' injury severity by as much as 40 percent.

ZF has its own strategy for developing the safety tech, one that will take into account the rapid advances in lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology. There are, after all, several challenges that need to be addressed; namely, ensuring that the sensors recognize the vital aspects of an impending crash. The airbags must inflate when necessary, but they shouldn't deploy at unnecessary times.

Other predictive systems will tighten a seatbelt or adjust the suspension when they detect a crash. Compared to this tech, however, external airbags pose a more extreme solution. They are meant to act as an added crumple zone, absorbing some of the shock of a side collision.

The model that ZF has developed boasts an inflation time of 15 milliseconds, comparable to that of steering wheel airbags. It's all the more impressive considering the dimensions. The airbag is 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide. Plus, it weighs about 13 pounds.

Still, no safety technology can address the issue of negligence behind the wheel. Someone who is injured because a motorist engaged in drowsy, impaired or distracted driving may be able to file a claim and be covered for damages. This could include medical expenses, rehabilitative care, lost income and lost earning capacity. However, a plaintiff may want a lawyer to help them build up the case and strive for a settlement since auto insurance companies are often aggressive in denying payments.

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