Automotive Airbag Testing with High-Speed Digital Video

One of the most significant advancements in automotive safety has been the development of the airbag safety restraint system. Its purpose is to cushion and protect vehicle occupants during a crash from impacting with other interior objects, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, side windows and pillars. Along with hundreds of vehicle safety improvements, airbags have contributed to a phenomenal increase in highway safety, reducing deaths by over 80% in the past 50 years.

Airbag restraint systems use a pyrotechnic source to rapidly inflate the bag when a crash condition is sensed, usually by solid state crash sensors (accelerometers) strategically located in the vehicle. The entire deployment and inflation process takes just 30 milliseconds, thus airbag testing requires a high-speed image sensor with much higher frames per second than typical vehicle crash testing. High-speed automotive imaging is necessary to capture the sequential series of airbag images at very high frame rates and played back in slow-motion to enable a detailed study. Image sensors with speeds of 3000 to 5000 fps are typically used in airbag testing.

Forza Silicon specializes in the design and manufacture of custom CMOS image sensors for high-resolution, high-speed digital video camera manufacturers. These image sensors typically feature very high-speed electronic global shutters, some with exposure times as short as 1 µs, making them ideal for airbag testing.Forza also developed a high-speed camera with high-definition capability for automotive imaging. Frames rates of 5000 fps make it ideal for airbag testing.

Airbag Testing

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