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ZF produces new safety data on external airbag tech

Residents of California may have heard about external airbags. Many car parts manufacturers are developing the technology, and though it is far from perfect, it may someday become a standard feature. ZF is one manufacturer that's clear about the benefits of external airbags: they can reduce the severity of vehicle occupants' injuries by as much as 40 percent.

There are concerns that camera and sensor technology are not advanced enough to recognize all the vital details of an impending crash. There is the additional question of how to get the predictive system to deploy the airbags a split second before the crash. In the past, airbags have also deployed unnecessarily.

However, ZF states that lidar, radar, ultrasonics and camera technology have been developing rapidly. ZF's own external airbag has an inflation time of 15 milliseconds, which is similar to that of a steering wheel airbag. It's an impressive figure considering how the airbag weighs 13 pounds and is 80 inches long, 21 inches high and 15 inches wide.

ZF's external airbags are meant to protect against side impact crashes. They deploy from the sides of a vehicle, providing a crumple zone that absorbs some of the force of a crash. Deploying airbags is a more drastic solution than what current predictive systems offer, but ZF will address the challenges with a concrete strategy.

Side collisions can be especially severe, but those who are not at fault or who are only partially at fault for a crash may be compensated for their injuries via an auto accident claim. The defendant's auto insurance company will do everything possible to deny payment, so victims may want to hire a lawyer before starting. They must file within two years of the date of the accident (three years if all they are to be compensated for is property damage).

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