Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t have expected to read news of Hyundai developing and introducing groundbreaking safety features. Although it cannot boast the kind of history in safety development that Volvo or Mercedes has, the South Korean carmaker has clearly been outlaying money and manpower into the development of cutting edge safety tech. The result is a multi-collision airbag system said to be the first of its kind. According to Hyundai, this world-first technology will significantly improve airbag performance in multi-collision accidents. Multi-collision accidents are those in which the primary impact on a vehicle and its occupants is followed by collisions with secondary objects, such as trees, electric posts or other vehicles.

The carmaker cites research-based statistics to drive home the importance of this new development. According to a study by the National Automotive Sampling System Crashworthiness Data System (NASS-CDS), an office of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the US, about 30 per cent of 56,000 vehicle accidents from 2000 to 2012 in the North American region involved multi-collisions. Apparently, the most number of such accidents involved cars crossing over the centre line, followed by collisions caused by a sudden stop at highway tollgates, highway median strip collisions, and sideswiping and collision with trees and electric poles.

Whereas airbag systems currently used in automobiles do not offer secondary protection when the initial impact is insufficient to cause them to deploy, Hyundai’s system allows airbags to deploy effectively upon a secondary impact by calibrating the status of the vehicle and detecting occupant position in the cabin following an initial collision. It also recalibrates the collision intensity required for deployment, and responds more promptly during the secondary impact.

“By improving airbag performance in multi-collision scenarios, we expect to significantly improve the safety of our drivers and passengers,” says Taesoo Chi, head of Chassis Technology Center at Hyundai Motor Group. “We will continue our research on more diverse crash situations as part of our commitment to producing even safer vehicles that protect occupants and prevent injuries.”

Hyundai Motor Group will implement this system in new Hyundai vehicles in the future.