Print 56 comment(s) - last by Keeir.. on Nov 9 at 7:31 PM

Demonstration of the new seatbelt  (Source: Detroit Free Press)
First generation of Ford's inflatable seat belt could help save lives

U.S. automaker Ford announced it will introduce a new seatbelt airbag that will first find its way into automobiles starting with the 2011 Ford Explorer SUV.

The Ford system operates by placing a small cylinder of cold compressed gas that sits underneath the rear seats, with an inflatable bag located in the seatbelts.  After a vehicle impact occurs, this new system is designed to spread the force of impact over more parts of the human body, which helps reduce the amount of impact felt by the human chest.

Although airbags are now common safety devices in all modern vehicles, Ford is poised to become the first automaker to introduce the inflatable rear seatbelts -- they'll launch next fall, when the 2011 Explorer is made available.

"It's hard to know for sure ahead of time, but this airbag has tremendous benefit by increasing the surface area (of the seat belt), and that allows them to restrain the torso better on a frail body," University of Michigan trauma surgeon Dr. Stewart Wang told The Detroit News.  "I think that the potential benefits are quite substantial."

As automakers look for new ways to attract car buyers, Ford has been quick to introduce in-car technology and additional features unavailable in some baseline and midrange vehicles from competing companies.

The new optional safety device will eventually be available for all Ford vehicles, but will have an additional cost auto buyers must pay.

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Nicely done Ford!!
By rika13 on 11/6/2009 10:01:29 AM , Rating: 5
A very nice invention that I hope they refused to patent, or else it'll only be in their vehicles and not save many lives.

Scathing remark about how the one company Obama didn't take control of not only turns a profit first, but now has developed a major life-saving innovation.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Spivonious on 11/6/2009 10:07:36 AM , Rating: 4
Scathing remark about how the one company Obama didn't take control of not only turns a profit first, but now has developed a major life-saving innovation.


RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Master Kenobi on 11/6/2009 10:21:33 AM , Rating: 5
Funny how that works. Government should never get involved like it has.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By SlipDizzy on 11/6/2009 10:54:08 AM , Rating: 5
I like and voted for Obama, but this is one topic I totally agree with. If a company is failing, let them fail. I know it would be tough on families with the loss of jobs and such, but the economy will balance itself out again. That's just my personal opinion.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Manch on 11/9/09, Rating: 0
RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Connoisseur on 11/6/2009 10:57:35 AM , Rating: 4
Funny... I thought it was letting large businesses run free and wild that created the financial meltdown in the first place. Yes, you can argue that the ORIGINAL ORIGINAL cause was created during the Clinton adminstration allowing low income families to purchase houses with crappy loans. However, wasn't it the financial institutions that converted these loans into securities to make a quick buck? My point is: Who would you rather blame?

I, for one, refuse to believe that letting the market run without some form oversight is always the best route. In my opinion, market forces are always reactive and never proactive. This inevitably leaves many, many people out in the dust while the market "adjusts".

Sorry to get off topic, but I feel this argument is relevant for the government bailouts too. Many people complain that the gov't should have just let these large companies crumble. The truth is that if they'd let that happen, regardlss of how despicable we believe it is, many MANY more people would have lost their jobs and we would've been in a much bigger hole for a longer period of time... my opinion.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Connoisseur on 11/6/2009 10:58:48 AM , Rating: 2
Sorry to get off topic, but I feel this argument is relevant for the government bailouts too.

Apologies what I meant to say was:

Sorry to get off topic, but I feel this argument is relevant for the government bailouts and auto company purchases too.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By docawolff on 11/6/2009 11:16:40 AM , Rating: 5
I think that most of the damage was done by Congress in 1999 when they repealed the Glass-Steagall Act (with an overwhelming bi-partisan majority). That allowed banks to get into the investment market and that in turn allowed banks to package mortgages as securities.

Just my two cents.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By RandallMoore on 11/6/2009 12:21:27 PM , Rating: 2
You also can't forget the push that Bill Clinton made to force banks to give out ridiculously high risk loans to people that never plan to pay them back.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Keeir on 11/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By knutjb on 11/6/2009 10:06:57 PM , Rating: 5
Kudos to Ford and I hope they make a reasonable profit to compensate them for the time and money spent to develop this.

George Bush's fault was through NOT emphasizing the mortgage problem loudly enough. He did not condone or promote the loans like Clinton did.

If you go back to 2004 and 2005 McCain pushed with Bush's backing a bill to reign in those loans. The Dems stifled it. It's in the Senate record. The Repubs didn't have anything near the majority the Dems have now, so they were unable to get it out of committee.

Some times the truth is hard to take when blinded by rage towards Bush. BTW Bush isn't in office anymore.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:51:34 AM , Rating: 2
He's still in orifice though.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Keeir on 11/9/2009 7:31:56 PM , Rating: 2
George Bush's fault was through NOT emphasizing the mortgage problem loudly enough. He did not condone or promote the loans like Clinton did.

Sorry, but you are very very wrong. Lifted from 2004 August Press Release

"Expanding Homeownership. The President believes that homeownership is the cornerstone of America's vibrant communities and benefits individual families by building stability and long-term financial security. In June 2002, President Bush issued America's Homeownership Challenge to the real estate and mortgage finance industries to encourage them to join the effort to close the gap that exists between the homeownership rates of minorities and non-minorities. The President also announced the goal of increasing the number of minority homeowners by at least 5.5 million families before the end of the decade. Under his leadership, the overall U.S. homeownership rate in the second quarter of 2004 was at an all time high of 69.2 percent. Minority homeownership set a new record of 51 percent in the second quarter, up 0.2 percentage point from the first quarter and up 2.1 percentage points from a year ago. President Bush's initiative to dismantle the barriers to homeownership includes:

American Dream Downpayment Initiative, which provides down payment assistance to approximately 40,000 low-income families;

Affordable Housing. The President has proposed the Single-Family Affordable Housing Tax Credit, which would increase the supply of affordable homes;

Helping Families Help Themselves. The President has proposed increasing support for the Self-Help Homeownership Opportunities Program; and

Simplifying Homebuying and Increasing Education. The President and HUD want to empower homebuyers by simplifying the home buying process so consumers can better understand and benefit from cost savings. The President also wants to expand financial education efforts so that families can understand what they need to do to become homeowners."

I agree that Clinton loosened the controls, but not only did Bush not retighten them but he also pushed through initiatives on the Demand Side that negatively effected the real-estate market.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By encryptkeeper on 11/7/2009 10:35:48 AM , Rating: 2

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:49:16 AM , Rating: 2
It's very simple.

Do you blame the great fire of London on a fire down baker street, or do you blame it on the idiots who built hundreds of wooden houses so close together?

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By darkpuppet on 11/6/2009 11:29:54 AM , Rating: 4
Actually, it's not funny how that works, but rather predictable.

Ford was in trouble a lot earlier on than some of the other companies.. and their leadership started turning that boat around a LONG time ago... Changes in the automotive industry don't happen quickly and it's taken YEARS for Ford to turn it around.

Ford was lucky that they were the first ones in real trouble and forced to sort it out themselves... but we can't judge how the nationalized companies are doing for another 3-5 years.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Golgatha on 11/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By kfonda on 11/6/2009 10:17:22 AM , Rating: 2
Why wouldn't they patent it? They spent 10 years developing this. Just because it's patented doesn't mean that other companies can't license the technology from Ford.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By exorcyst on 11/6/2009 11:40:51 AM , Rating: 2
Where did you find that 10 years number?

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By weskurtz0081 on 11/6/2009 11:47:21 AM , Rating: 2
You know, I don't think the amount of time spent on developing something should be part of the determination of whether or not a patent should be rewarded.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By kfonda on 11/6/2009 12:37:15 PM , Rating: 3
The 10 years number come from the article linked to from the story above.

Here's the relevant part:
The 47-year-old biomedical engineer has spent nearly half of his 21-year career at Ford working on the first-ever system, which will debut on the new Ford Explorer next year and promises to provide unprecedented protection for back seat passengers -- particularly for children and the elderly.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By weskurtz0081 on 11/6/2009 10:35:15 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah, they should allow Ford to patent it, they came up with it. Plus, if I understand patent law correctly, they will patent the implementation, how Ford did it, but other companies can also make something similar, just not exactly how Ford did it.

Or, they can license the exact technology from Ford. I am sure there is more than one way to make an inflatable seat belt.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Souka on 11/6/09, Rating: -1
RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By nafhan on 11/6/2009 11:46:09 AM , Rating: 2
Did you see what happened to Ford internally to make this "profit"?
Didn't you notice other car companies doing many of the same things and still not making a profit? Keeping those plants open and paying people to make cars that were not selling would have killed the company causing everyone at Ford to lose their jobs.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By weskurtz0081 on 11/6/2009 11:49:53 AM , Rating: 2
Isn't that what companies are supposed to do when they are bloated? I don't understand the point you are trying to make with how Ford turned profitable.

They are making better products while trimming costs.... standard operating procedures in the "turn your company around" book.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By callmeroy on 11/6/2009 1:33:55 PM , Rating: 2
Do the business world a favor -- never strive to be a business owner.

Why is it always touted as "evil" or "bad" when a company lays off workers, closes locations, makes pay cuts -- in the name to return to solvency?

Its it happy times? Of course not....Is it something that everyone should be ok with? No - unless you are insane...

But it is business reality. Money doesn't magically appear - I think even a child quickly learns that lesson.

I'm not being a hypocrit hear either -- I lost a job that I was quite happy at because the company had to close our office. Was I ok with it -- of course not...but I understood.

Any board of directors worth their salt knows in times of trouble their mission is to save the company (you know that whole "live to fight another day" concept), you can't give people jobs, or make money for your shareholders if your company dies.

Its not genius stuff here -- this is business 101.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By ajoyner777 on 11/7/2009 1:39:05 AM , Rating: 2
I agree that sometimes a company has to lay off workers in troubled times, but what most people don't like is that most companies tend to trim off the fat in all the wrong places. They start by laying off all the blue collar workers. They then take the remaining workers, and expect them to quickly learn new jobs, and sometimes do twice the amount of work. What do you think happens to quality? It goes down the drain. Instead the layoff's should be spread equally across the board starting with management. Start trimming middle management (these guys make way more than a blue collar, and do we really need 20 guys sitting around sipping coffee with their thumb up their ass), and then after you have just enough management to run the place, start looking at what blue collar jobs you can eliminate.

Now I haven't been a blue collar worker for quite some time, but I have worked at several places that employ the above strategy, and I can't tell you how pissed off I get at companies that do this.

/rant off

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Totally on 11/6/2009 2:17:58 PM , Rating: 2
Your ex-girlfriend is an idiot. If a person doesn't intend to use something properly the manufacturer cant be held responsible. I might as well take them to court when I seriously get hurt for not wearing my safety belt.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By exorcyst on 11/6/2009 11:39:43 AM , Rating: 3
Right. So if a sicker patient that a surgeon works on doesn't recover faster than a not so sick patient, the surgeon should have never worked on the sicker patient in the first place.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By UNHchabo on 11/6/2009 1:39:34 PM , Rating: 5
It's called Triage. There are three categories of patients:

1) Those who are likely to live, regardless of what care they receive;
2) Those who are likely to die, regardless of what care they receive;
3) Those for whom immediate care might make a positive difference in outcome.

You care for the ones in group 3 first . GM was in group 2.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By Eldercat1 on 11/6/2009 2:23:22 PM , Rating: 1
What? Since when did Obama bail out the car industry?

December 19th 2008:
"President George W. Bush today introduced a $17.4 billion rescue plan aimed at rescuing the American automotive industry. The move is meant to give Chrysler LLC and General Motors the opportunity to continue payroll, continue supplier relations, and dodge bankruptcy."

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By SiliconAddict on 11/6/2009 11:57:15 PM , Rating: 2
*rolls eyes* Yah because it was a company that wasn't run into the ground by incompetent morons. I love how its: Obama is taking control. No you moron they could stay in control if they wanted too, but to get OUR money requires strings, namely oversight. If you use our money you are damn well going to be monitored that you are using it correctly.
Sadly they didn't make such stipulation towards the bailouts of the banks. With the results being insane bonuses, gold parachutes in the hundreds of millions, and loans that are barely making its way out to the people who need it. And of course Obama is blamed for that as well. Doesn't matter what he does....he is going to be the scapegoat for everything.
But of course if they had everyone and their mother would have been up in arms that AHHHH GOV TAKEOVER.
I'm sick of people complaining about oversight when its obvious that companies are not interested in what is good for their customers, but more interested in what is good for their share holders and the bottom line. This is a fundamental design flaw in how a corporation functions IMHO. Until business ethics really do start coming into play, oversight isn't just a good idea, its mandatory.

Meanwhile I will probably have a friend that won't survive to see Jan 1st because she lost her job last November and had no way to pay for the examination to check out a lump. Its now terminal. But of course when anyone speaks of socialized healthcare its obviously evil. All these fundies who are rallying around people like Michelle Bachman can all burn in the deepest pits of Hell.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By DOSGuy on 11/7/2009 3:35:57 PM , Rating: 2
That's because Ford is the only company that didn't ask for a bailout. While the other automakers were being stupid, Ford was developing clever technologies like this. Ford's lack of a bailout isn't why they're turning a profit; turning a profit is the reason why they refused the bailout.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By deputc26 on 11/7/2009 11:07:07 PM , Rating: 2
Cessna has had these in all their new aircraft since 2007, they make the strap pretty bulky.

RE: Nicely done Ford!!
By VaultDweller on 11/9/2009 8:44:47 AM , Rating: 2
Scathing remark about how the one company Obama didn't take control of not only turns a profit first, but now has developed a major life-saving innovation.

Which of course has everything to do with what happened before the bail-outs started to happen, and pretty much nothing to do with what happened after. Ford has supposedly been working on this idea for a decade. Thank you for your irrelevant observations.

Or is it somehow retroactively Obama's fault that GM and Chrysler have been burying themselves under their own failures and inadequacy since before Obama was even in the Senate?

Ford is the one company they "didn't take control of" because it's the one company that didn't completely destroy itself.

Nothing new to see here...
By developersdevelopersdevelopers on 11/6/2009 10:30:00 AM , Rating: 2
This isn't new technology. Perhaps Ford had the idea of bringing it to their cars, but there is NO major innovation here.

AmSafe Inc has had this available for the airline industry for several years now. Other companies are also developing alternative types of air bag restraints for application in other industries.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By R6Raven on 11/6/2009 10:52:14 AM , Rating: 3
It may not be new, but apparently it's new to the vehicle industry.

And quite frankly, it's far more practical in this instance. For really bumpy landings in a plane, ok, but if my plane is spiraling toward earth at 500mph, I'm not worried about whether or not my seat belt is going to inflate.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 11:53:46 AM , Rating: 1
Seriously. When you hit the ground hard enough to care about needing an airbag in a plane, its really not going to matter.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By R6Raven on 11/6/2009 12:40:25 PM , Rating: 2

Seriously. When you hit the ground hard enough to care about needing an airbag in a plane, its really not going to matter.
Yeah, I think I would want the opposite actually - everything completely out of my way so I have ample room to put my head between my legs and kiss my ass goodbye!

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By ClownPuncher on 11/6/2009 1:49:27 PM , Rating: 5
Planes skid off runways when taking off and landing, they are going fast enough to cause injuries on impact, but arent always deadly.

Not every plane crash is a Bruce Willis movie.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By Keeir on 11/6/2009 2:31:03 PM , Rating: 2

But a few things are different between the Airplane Infla-belt and the Car Infla-belt

#1. The airplane infla-belt creates a cushion in front of people's head and is only used when a soft surface (such as a seat) is not in frount of the passenger. In a "commerical" application (rather than private planes, which crash much much more often) there is really only 1-2 incidents a year out of 10 million+ commerical flights (in the US), and even then, many times, infla-belts would not have helped.

Infla-belts in airplanes can really help "general" aviation where small planes used for sport or as air taxis etc where overall safety standards, rigor, and maintainence is usually not up to the standards of commerical flights. (Also note, there is ~20 million "general" aviation flights a year as well. And usually less than 100 incidents where infla-belts would have helped)

#2. Automobile Infla-belts appear to lessen the impact force of seat belt restraints on the body, which should result in less "head-lash". Essentially, they come in play in every crash situation, but really only for rear seat passengers. Out of the approx. 40,000 people who died last year in car crashes and the ~60,000 injuried, only a small fraction were rear seat passengers, and only in a small fraction would the infla-belt have helped more than say side-curtain airbags. Its a neat feature, but just like the airplane situation, seems to be more of a "safety for safety's sake" rather than a situation driven by real need. At least though the car system probably would address 500-1,000 incidents a year (maybe not successfully).

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:47:18 AM , Rating: 2
For an aircraft about to crash, why not explosively fill the cabin with that expanding foam stuff from demolition man?

Hit the ground, fuselage breaks open, fire ensues... everyone is fine because they are encased in flame retardent foam and breathing from a short term air supply.

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By MrPoletski on 11/9/2009 4:42:08 AM , Rating: 2
bu-bu-bu-but... b-b-b-brucie can take out an F-35 single handed!!

RE: Nothing new to see here...
By weskurtz0081 on 11/6/2009 10:56:34 AM , Rating: 2
No major innovation? It's definitely innovation in the vehicle industry as is evidenced by the simple fact no other Auto maker has it.

Getting closer
By webstorm1 on 11/6/2009 10:00:05 AM , Rating: 4
I'm still waiting for foam. "What the hell happened? All of a sudden, this car turned into a cannoli!"

It's nice to hear something positive out of Detroit for a change. Does this mean the airbag is not needed in these models? This could be added to all 4 seats also.

RE: Getting closer
By mdogs444 on 11/6/2009 10:03:31 AM , Rating: 3
This does not replace the need for standard front airbags which are there to protect your head from impact with the dash, steering wheel, and/or well as the side airbags to protect you from the windows/doors.

These airbags are meant to be safer because they reduce the amount of stress your body receives from the actual belt being strapped across your body. Many people receive very serious injuries from standard belts due to the force and speed of the head on crash, or from being hit from being when stopped.

However, as with every other additional safety and technology will come with added weight and cost to the vehicle.

RE: Getting closer
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 10:12:14 AM , Rating: 3
Personally I'd prefer this in the front to a standard airbag coming out of the dash or steering wheel. Regular airbags can hurt as much as help. Obviously still used in conjunction with side impact bags if the car has them.

Great idea
By MarcLeFou on 11/6/2009 11:05:00 AM , Rating: 2
My mom was involved in a head on collision 5 or 6 years ago and she had injuries where the seat belt held her in place. The seatbelt saved her life and the injuries were nothing major but she did spend the night in the hospital and had to go through some light physiotherapy.

This would have prevented those injuries completely.

Kudos to Ford.

I still hate their front grill on their cars though. They look like venetian blinds!

RE: Great idea
By FITCamaro on 11/6/2009 11:55:34 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah my brother was stupidly laying down in the back seat of a friends car when it got hit (was his friend's fault). With this kind of seatbelt, he might not have ruptured his intestine. Granted that doesn't excuse him being laid down across the back seat but who hasn't done that? I did all the time as a kid in the back of my parents van on road trips.

Old Airbag
By Luke Sassypants on 11/6/2009 11:13:49 AM , Rating: 2
I have had an airbag in my vehicle for 10 years, ever since we've been married.

I am not a robot!

RE: Old Airbag
By kattanna on 11/6/2009 12:32:27 PM , Rating: 2
LOL im sure she feels the same way about you


By Uncle on 11/6/09, Rating: 0
RE: pensions
By HostileEffect on 11/6/2009 3:40:34 PM , Rating: 2
Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Do we really need life experience to understand that it might be a good idea to have something more than just a pension check?

RE: pensions
By Uncle on 11/6/2009 4:05:21 PM , Rating: 2
Hindsight is great and a high school degree or higher is also good. But the majority of the thousands are lower educated factory workers without the financial degrees or expertise to make these decisions who are trusting in the union execs to take care of their future needs because thats the way its done.

awfully complex
By Suntan on 11/6/2009 1:26:07 PM , Rating: 2
I'd like to see simple 4 point restraints in my vehicle. But I know very few other people would use them, so they are never going to become an option.


Rethinking restraints
By DotNetGuru on 11/9/2009 1:34:53 PM , Rating: 2
IMO the real question should've been: "Why were the belts so damn skinny in the first place?" Even a simple understanding of physics and human anatomy should've led to a change in restraint systems long ago. Maybe not multipoint harnesses like those used in race cars, but something better than our current system seems necessary.

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