Toomey, D., Winkel, E., and Krishnaswami, R., "Evaluation of Air Bag Electronic Sensing System Collision Performance through Laboratory Simulation," SAE Technical Paper 2015-01-1484, 2015, doi:10.4271/2015-01-1484.
Since their inception, the design of airbag sensing systems has continued to evolve. The evolution of air bag sensing system design has been rapid. Electromechanical sensors used in earlier front air bag applications have been replaced by multi-point electronic sensors used to discriminate collision mechanics for potential air bag deployment in front, side and rollover accidents. In addition to multipoint electronic sensors, advanced air bag systems incorporate a variety of state sensors such as seat belt use status, seat track location, and occupant size classification that are taken into consideration by air bag system algorithms and occupant protection deployment strategies. Electronic sensing systems have allowed for the advent of event data recorders (EDRs), which over the past decade, have provided increasingly more information related to air bag deployment events in the field.To further aid in the evaluation of air bag field performance and interpretation of EDR downloads, a test methodology was developed so that controlled actuation of air bag system sensing elements could be achieved that accurately simulates vehicle collision dynamics. This was accomplished with the air bag control module removed from the vehicle and installed on physical actuators (linear and/or rotary) while still connected to the vehicle wiring harness. Controlled excitation of air bag sensing elements while simultaneously monitoring the outputs of the air bag system control module allows for assessment of system performance under various collision pulses and state sensor conditions. The presented test methodology provides a tool for evaluating field performance and EDR reporting in a controlled laboratory environment, without a priori knowledge of the underlying air bag algorithm or the expense and difficulty of running vehicle crashes.