Ford filed a patent for a floor-mounted airbag between the rear seats and the cargo space to keep occupants safe in a collision. The application says this tech could apply to passenger cars or commercial vehicles.
The airbag would be hidden underneath the floor in the cargo area near the backs of the rear seats. At least one tether and retractor would hide behind a trim piece along the side pillar.
In a collision, the airbag would inflate, and the retractor would pull the tether to haul the bag up to improve the deployment time. It would be C-shaped so that there would be protection along the seatback and the walls. The curtain would at least be taller than the rear seats, potentially as high as the roof. The barrier would keep anything in the cargo bay from striking folks in the back seat.
Ford also describes a variant of this system with a portion of the airbag extending over the seatback when deployed. This would protect the heads of occupants in a collision.
The automaker also outlines an application where the passenger area would be open to the cargo space. This version would add the ability to keep cargo from sliding forward during a crash.
Activating this airbag would follow the same methods as the ones that protect the driver. Sensors would connect to a computer. If a crash occurs, a signal goes to an inflator that activates and fills the bag with gas.
The patent description doesn’t detail how this tech would work for commercial vehicles like the Transit van. One potential application would be to protect the goods inside a delivery vehicle. The C-shaped bag would cover the walls and prevent packages from falling.
As with other patent filings, there’s no guarantee that Ford actually puts this airbag application into production. Companies can patent ideas to make sure a competitor doesn’t take the concept first.