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.