Volvo Cars has designed a lightweight and inflatable rearward-faced child seat concept using ground breaking technology.
Children’s car seats are historically bulky, hard to move and tedious to mount. According to Volvo, the new seat is safe, easy to pack and carry and will enable parents to use it in many situations not practical with the seats on the market today. The concept is also very convenient when travelling by taxi, rental car or bus, situations where people historically had to rely on the safety measures available.
Inflates in 40 seconds
The seat has an innovative pump system that is silent and efficient in its construction. The seat inflates in less than 40 seconds and deflates with an integrated pump. The total weight of the seat is less than 5kg, half the weight of a contemporary seat, and it is connected via Bluetooth, which allows for a wide range of features, including remote controlled inflation. It fits into a weekend bag together with other necessities for a child.
"We used a unique material called drop-stitch fabric when creating the prototype of the seat. This fabric is very strong when inflated as it can be brought to a very high internal pressure. It is a quite common technology in the boating industry and was originally developed by the military in an effort to develop inflatable airplanes," says Maria Hansson, project manager at Volvo Monitoring and Concept Centre in Los Angeles.
The Inflatable Child Seat concept faces the rear of the car, as it is the safest way for children to travel. A child's neck is under development and not as strong as an adult's neck. In a frontal impact collision, the head of a forward-facing car occupant is thrown forward inducing great strain on the neck. Children therefore need special restraints and to face the rear of the vehicle until at least 3-4 years of age.
"Actually, it would be better for all of us to travel facing the rear but given how cars are designed nowadays, it's not feasible. Young children, however, can and should travel facing the rear of the car as long as possible," says Lawrence Abele. "The goal was to design a seat as safe, or safer, than anything on the market right now but second to that I want everyone, including kids to be exposed to great design every day," added Hansson.