Preliminary Research Into the Feasibility of Motorcycle Airbag Systems
Published May 23, 1994 by National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in United States
This paper summarizes the results of preliminary research carried out between 1990 and 1993 by the motorcycle industry and various research institutes, into the feasibility of applying airbag technology to motorcycles. Phase 1 of the research involved: literature review; identification of preliminary injury evaluation methods, injury indices and dummy requirements needed to assess motorcycle airbags; 19 sled tests of a medium conventional motorcycle fitted with two different car airbag systems; and computer simulation to evaluate systematically the effects of airbag design, vehicle, rider characteristics and impact configuration on airbag performance. The Phase 1 results indicated that, in general: prior research had been exploratory and limited in methodology; that no work had been done on the subjects of out-of-position riders, the consequences of unintended deployment, or neck injury potential, in a series of initial sled tests and simulations, the re was reduced injury potential in some impacts and increased head and neck injury potential in other cases; and that clearer answers to airbag feasibility depended on development of an appropriate motorcycle airbag dummy and associated injury criteria, especially for the neck region. Phase 2 of the research continued with : a review and analysis of existing airbag sensor technology; modification of existing motorcycle dummy to incorporate modifications to the neck and other body regions; human cadaver tests to assess the effects of airbag deployment on out-of-position rides; dummy response validation; computer simulation of various airbag concepts including preliminary design optimization; full scale impact tests with a prototype airbag system to verify the simulation results; and further refinement of the dummy neck and airbag design. Overall, the results indicated: that appropriate injury evaluation methods are needed to assess motorcycle airbag feasibility in a realistic manner; that for motorcycle airbags, a tradeoff exists between beneficial effects in some impact accident configurations and harmful effects in others; and that the positive or negative influences of a motorcycle airbag are sensitive to airbag design parameters, and impact or deployment configurations. Recommendations for further research are presented.