Ford introduced the first-ever production automobile rear inflatable safety belts in 2010. Now, four years later, Ford continues to expand availability on Ford and Lincoln vehicles, and will be licensing the patented technology to other manufacturers and industries.
“Ford’s longstanding commitment to democratizing technology goes beyond our customers,” says president and CEO of Ford Global Technologies, Bill Coughlin. “In this case, the wider adoption of inflatable safety belts has the potential to make travel safer and help mitigate passenger injuries – especially among children and the elderly.”
Inflatable safety belts operate like conventional safety belts—in a crash, the inflatable safety belt deploys over an occupant’s torso and shoulder, but this belt helps distribute crash forces up to five times more area than your typical safety belt. Distributing the pressure over a larger area helps reduce pressure on the passenger’s chest and helps control movement of the head and neck.
Ford claims to have purchased additional inflatable safety belt patents from United Technologies Corp. to ensure that this technology could be licensed. Thanks to the AutoHarvest Foundation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the adoption of new technologies by providing unprecedented access to innovators and businesses, not only can this technology be used by other manufacturers, but also by the military, aviation, and boat industries, among others.
“We founded AutoHarvest with the hopes this type of technology sharing could be realized for the betterment of society,” says co-founder and board chairman for AutoHarvest, David E. Cole. “We are glad to be able to play a role in spreading this safety technology more broadly.”
The inflatable safety belt is currently available on Ford Explorer, Flex, Fusion, and the upcoming 2015 F-150, as well as Lincoln MKT and MKZ for left and right second-row seating positions.