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New Sensor-Based Function Tightens Seatbelts Immediately Prior To Accidents

During an accident, the occupants of a vehicle are often subjected to significant forces that could result in injury. The international automotive supplier Continental has developed a new function to tighten seatbelts immediately prior to an accident, which can reduce the severity of possible injuries by up to 15 percent.

This new ContiGuard function – Active Emergency Belt Control – received the Euro NCAP Advanced Award last year and is already available in two compact cars produced by major German automobile manufacturers.

"Safety systems like seatbelts and airbags are fully effective if occupants happen to be in the optimal sitting position before the impact," said Dr. Ralf Schnupp, Head of the Occupant Safety & Inertial Sensors (OSIS) segment of the Passive Safety & Sensorics Business Unit in Continental's Chassis & Safety Division. "Our new Active Emergency Belt Control function can make this possible by tightening the seatbelts and holding the occupants in that optimal position."

The automatic tightening of the seatbelt occurs by means of a reversible electro-mechanical belt tensioner. In order to provide added safety, the car's windows and sunroof will also shut automatically so that objects cannot enter into the car's interior during the course of an accident.

For this function, the driving status of the vehicle is analyzed in the Safety Control Unit (SCU) with the help of vehicle dynamics sensors and signals from other surrounding sensors. As soon as the system detects that the driver is slamming on the brakes, that the car is skidding, that a low-speed accident is about to occur, or that a front-end or rear-end collision is imminent, the Active Emergency Belt Control activates the integrated safety functions prior to impact.

Tests demonstrate effectiveness
Continental Safety Engineering – a service supplier which tests active and passive vehicle safety for the Chassis & Safety Division in Alzenau, Germany – has proven the effectiveness of the new function through an extensive test program. Dynamic road tests demonstrated the extent to which the early activation of the seatbelt was able to hold an occupant in the optimized position, while the vehicle executed a series of intermediate maneuvers. Parallel tests were also conducted without belt activation as a control. In these cases, the vehicle occupant was repeatedly jolted out of the ideal position. Crash scenarios using an acceleration sled simulated the position of occupants obtained through the driving tests.

"We observed significantly less severe injuries with the Active Emergency Belt Control, which proved the effectiveness of the function," said Dr. Gunnar Juergens, Managing Director of Continental Safety Engineering.

An affordable, integrated safety function
The centralized triggering of the front-seat electro-mechanical seatbelt tensioners via the Safety Control Unit permits low-cost system architecture in cars. Also, the integration of this feature into the safety control unit makes it possible to introduce functions that have been common only in premium automobiles into mid-class cars.

Continental is expanding its safety strategy, ContiGuard, by adding Active Emergency Belt Control. ContiGuard integrates active and passive safety systems, which work more effectively together due to the interlinking of safety technologies with related surrounding sensors, driving dynamics sensors and the evaluation of driver behavior.

With sales of €32.7 billion in 2012, Continental is among the leading automotive suppliers worldwide. As a supplier of brake systems, systems and components for powertrains and chassis, instrumentation, infotainment solutions, vehicle electronics, tires, and technical elastomers, Continental contributes to enhanced driving safety and global climate protection. Continental is also an expert partner in networked automobile communication. Continental currently has almost 175,000 employees in 46 countries.


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