POC announced today that it has partnered with automotive safety supplier Autoliv to develop airbag systems that can be incorporated into bike helmets.
The budding technology is currently aimed at commuters and e-bikers, but it's likely that once refined, the system could be applied to POC's mountain bike helmets, too. According to Autoliv, which primarily makes car airbags and seatbelts, more than half of seriously injured road users are cyclists, and serious injuries in crashes involving cyclists rose 24% from 2010 to 2019. With cycling still on the rise worldwide thanks to environmental and health initiatives, the two Swedish companies thought it timely to study how helmet safety could be improved.
A prototype model has been tested using crash dummies to mimic different ground impacts a cyclist's head might experience. A full study is upcoming, but in the "pre-study tests," researchers evaluated airbag designs, pressure, integration methods, and triggering systems:
The researchers noted that the design was constrained by the helmet itself having to still perform as well as conventional helmets when the airbag is not deployed.
After the successful initial tests, POC and Autoliv plan to continue the research, now with a focus on creating an airbag with as much coverage as possible and with coverage in the most essential spots. Although there's still extensive testing to be done, POC aims to bring an airbag helmet to market before too long.
More information is available online
, where users can download Autoliv's full report of the pre-study testing. (Users are asked to enter personal information to gain access. I took the hit so you don't have to.)
With increasing awareness of head injuries throughout the bike industry, we look forward to seeing more technological developments to help mitigate those risks in the future.