Vehicle Seating-An Overview of How Advanced Airbag Regulations Will Effect Non-FMVSS Test Procedures 2001-01-0116
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revised the Final Rule for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS 208) - Occupant Crash Protection . This rule, which will first take effect during the 2004 model year, specifies a number of new compliance test requirements that advanced frontal protection airbags will have to meet. The goal of the new standard is to reduce the risk of serious airbag induced injuries, particularly for small women and young children, and provide improved frontal crash protection for all occupants.
In response to this new rule, vehicles in the future will have electronic sensors located in the seat and other advanced sensor systems. These sensors will be designed to measure critical data, such as occupant weight and size, which will be used to control the airbag. The reliability of the sensors through the entire life of a vehicle is critical to its overall safety characteristics. Tests that were conducted in the past strictly for quality evaluation, are now being done for safety-related reasons. The use of durability tests to ensure the reliability of a particular safety feature has resulted in the development of enhanced durability evaluations and “in-plant” or production test and calibration procedures.
This paper will provide a general overview of changes in the non-FMVSS testing field as a result of new airbag regulations. As safety systems are designed with more complex electronic components, changes will have to be made to testing practices to ensure reliability of the system through the entire life of a vehicle. Readers of this paper will gain a much broader understanding of the effects that new airbag regulations will have on testing practices intended to evaluate the reliability and durability of safety-related vehicle components.