The Inflatable Tubular Structure (ITS) is a safety system intended to provide head protection during side-impact car accidents.
The ITS is an inflatable device fixed at two points; at the front end, to the A-pillar, and at the aft end, to the roof rail behind the B-pillar. It is stowed over the side window under the trim of the A-pillar and the headliner. At one end, a gas generator is electrically connected to the side-impact crash-sensing system which inflates the ITS when needed.
The ITS is fabricated in a unique way so that, upon inflation, its diameter greatly increases and its length correspondingly decreases. This causes the ITS to pull itself out of its stored location over the side window into a straight line between its anchor points. The ITS thereby forms a taut semi-rigid structural member across the window opening. The ITS is brought to a pressure higher than an air bag, and is unvented so that, even upon the cooling of the gas, it retains its position independent of window glass support to provide protection in secondary collisions and rollovers.