Facts About Airbags

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History behind It

Who invented the airbag?

In 1951, German engineer Walter Linderer designed an airbag. Linderer filed German patent #896,312 on October 6, 1951 which was issued on November 12, 1953, approximately three months after American John Hetrick was issued U.S. patent #2,649,311 earlier on August 18, 1953. Linderer's airbag was based on a compressed air system, either released by bumper contact or by the driver. Later research during the 1960s proved that compressed air could not blow Linderer's airbag up fast enough for maximum safety, thus making it an impractical system. John W. Hetrick, an industrial engineer and member of the United States Navy, designed the original safety cushion commonly referred to as an airbag. It was designed based on his experiences with compressed air from torpedoes during his service in the navy, as well as a need to provide protection for his family in their automobile during accidents. Hetrick worked with the major American automobile corporations at the time, but they chose not to invest in it. In Japan, Yasuzaburou Kobori invented an airbag in 1963, on which technology current airbags are based, for which he was awarded patents in 14 countries. He died in 1975 without seeing widespread adoption of airbag systems. In 1967, a breakthrough occurred in the development of airbag crash sensors when Allen K. Breed invented a mechanically-based ball-in-tube component for crash detection, an electromechanical sensor with a steel ball attached to a tube by a magnet that would inflate an airbag under a 30 milli-second window. Sodium azide instead of compressed air was also used for the first time during inflation. Breed Corporation then marketed this innovation first to Chrysler. A similar "Auto-Ceptor" crash-restraint, developed by Eaton, Yale & Towne Inc. for Ford was soon offered as an automatic safety system in the USA, while the Italian Eaton-Livia company offered a variant with localized air cushions....
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