To alleviate well-publicized problems of injuries to children or small adults from full-force air bag inflation, federal regulation FMVSS 208 has mandated that by model year 2006, all consumer vehicles must sense the size of seat occupants and activate air bag inflation accordingly. Thirty-five percent of all vehicles must be so equipped by model year 2004. FMVSS 208 forced automakers to find, and quickly, an inexpensive means to comply, that is, without completely redesigning seats.
Delco’s PODS II has rapidly become the dominant solution to this problem. To classify a seat occupant, it measures the static and dynamic loading force on the seat, vehicle vertical acceleration, and seat belt tension. From this, customer-specific algorithms determine whether to activate air bags, and sometimes with what intensity. The system can estimate the weights of seat occupants, and can distinguish whether an infant carrier is strapped to the seat.
PODS II senses weight from the pressure changes sensed by a fluid filled bladder under the cushioning of the seat. Bladder technology has been catalogued so thoroughly that a design can be adapted to almost any automotive seat; therefore most existing seat designs can be retrofitted without changing styling or seat cover fabrics. PODS’ operation is robust over a wide range of temperatures and it even compensates for the aging of the seat.
Because of extensive development of a system based on bladder technology, plus developing a lean, inexpensive manufacturing base to deliver it, Delco Electronics has emerged as the supplier of choice for all OEMs that must meet the requirements of FMVSS 208. They are increasing the peace of mind of the motoring public, too.