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Airbags -- yesterday, today, and tomorrow

O'Neill, Brian
Airbag 2006: Eighth International Symposium and Exhibition on Sophisticated Car Occupant Systems
December 2006

This paper presents a history of airbags, discusses airbags used today, and provides a look into the future of airbags. It describes key events of the 1970s (the U.S. regulatory war over airbags, occupant protection outside the United states, the advent of automatic seat belts); discusses what happened in the 1980s (the need for both seat belts and airbags, the continuation of the air bag war, U.S. seat belt use laws, how the marketplace took over) and presents concerns during the 1990s (airbag-induced deaths, and the convergence of the safety world). The paper also describes the emergence of side airbags in the 1990s and 2000s and gives us a glimpse into the airbags of tomorrow (more reliable crash sensors, and possibly the use of external airbags).