‘First wearable airbag vest’ to protect cyclists

12.58 | 8 January 2019 | | 3 comments

 

An airbag vest which can detect a collision and inflate in less than one second has been developed to help protect cyclists from back and neck injuries.

Described as the first wearable airbag vest, ‘B’safe’ has been developed by Helite, a French company which specialises in airbag technology.

The product is currently being showcased at the CES tech show in Las Vegas (8-11 Jan).

B’safe comprises two parts: the vest (to wear over clothes) and the saddle sensor, which is installed under the saddle.

The vest provides ‘optimal protection’ to three vital parts of the body: the thorax, the back and the neck.

It is made of a strong nylon fabric which is designed to ensure the vest won’t rip after inflation. After each inflation, the airbag automatically deflates slowly and can be used again.

Speaking to BBC News, Alexandre Quarrey from Helite, said: “You have an electronic device inside that is able to inflate the airbag automatically in case of an accident with a car or if you lose control.

“It means it will inflate very quickly. It takes 100 milliseconds (0.1 seconds) to have very good protection.

“We are focussing on the main areas that have to be protected during a fall. Of course, we can protect the leg but we have to make priorities regarding the protection we want to develop.”

Helite has also developed an airbag for motorcyclists – Airvest – which is currently being used by 14 UK police forces and London Ambulance motorcycle paramedics.

Steven Godfrey, clinical team leader of the London Ambulance Motorcycle Response Unit, said: “[Airvest] offers far greater protection than standard jacket armour. It protects the thorax and spine from direct impact and supports the base of the helmet, preventing neck injury through limiting hyper-flexion and hyperextension of the neck.

“This greatly reduces the risk of not only minor injuries – but life changing or life threatening injuries also. Wearable airbag technology for motorcyclists should be seen as the current gold standard in protection.”

Airvest is being demonstrated at the forthcoming Young Rider Focus conference in Birmingham on 6 March. Young Rider Focus is being organised by Road Safety GB in partnership with FirstBike – click here for details of delegate fees and/or to register to attend.


 

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    Too clever by half…

    It needs two sets of batteries, a CO2 canister, a sensor fitted under your saddle which it communicates with via wifi, plus it only operates when the zip’s done up (and that switch arrangement’s never going to fail, is it?). Waaaay too much effort and complication for the average Joe.

    It also activates through shock; what fun to give every cyclist you see wearing one a hearty slap on the back (or push him off!) and watch him inflate like the Michelin man! Because school kids are never going to do that to each other, are they?


    R Brunsdon
    Agree (0) | Disagree (1)
    --1

    I would suggest that if you are a rider who doesn’t believe in head protection which is prevalent or prominent in some quarters then trying to sell them a safety vest would be like banging your head against a brick wall. No go for many as it could infer to others that cycling is dangerous and they don’t want that do they. That alone could deter others from taking up cycling and be financially harmful to some pro cycling organisations or businesses.


    R.Craven
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    +1

    I have to admire the ingenuity of this, in principle it looks like a great idea. As a frequent cyclist I have had just enough spills and close encounters in my time to believe things go wrong, and as the owner of a steadily deteriorating body I am only too aware of the fragility of its parts. But the two factors that will determine uptake are practicality and cost. Prinicpally, how hot and sweaty will you get when wearing it and cycling vigorously? Even on cold days there’s a limit to what is comfortable. I recall a similar device going on the market a few years ago which was in the form of a scarf or “snood” which inflated to cover the neck and top of head. All very well, but when cycling, the last thing I want is a scarf round my neck. Curously, I’ve not heard anything about whether these devices caught on or not. Anyway I hope the B safe is successful, the motorcycle version perhaps won’t suffer so much from the sweat problem.


    Tim, West Midlands
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    +5