Innovation Inflating International Airbag Markets
After seatbelts, airbags are recognised by automotive OEMs to be an essential safety feature within a car. IMS Research has concluded that the global fitment rate is only set to increase, with almost 90% of new production cars having at least one airbag fitted as standard by 2018. Market revenues from the sale of airbag systems are forecast to reach $20 billion in 2018, with semiconductor companies, Tier 1s and OEMs alike targeting the developing regions in particular.The
Developing regions currently require a different, more basic airbag system than developed regions. Catering to both markets requires flexibility; for example, TRW has handled this situation with a two tiered approach. It offers a complex, occupant dynamic based airbag control unit which is aimed at developed regions. However, TRW also offers a scalable airbag control unit for emerging markets. This simpler control unit is designed for low-end applications, but can be scaled upwards so it is comparable to that of the ‘developed region’ control unit. This approach is being supported by the semiconductor companies; for example, Texas Instruments is offering a range of squib driver chips including the TPIC71004-Q1 four-channel squib driver. This driver enables scaling of airbag control unit designs.
With the number of airbags per car reaching saturation point for cars in the developed region, airbag system design will change. ‘OEM and Tier 1 strategy for airbag systems will have to change. IMS Research is observing it currently, but there will be more emphasis on intelligent and effective airbag deployment in the future’ explains Scott. ‘A sophisticated sensor network will be imperative for intelligent airbag deployment.’ Freescale’s new Xtrinsic MMA65xxKW family of accelerometers employ ‘intelligent sensing technologies’ which suits front and side crash detection.