Force Required To Deploy Airbags: Mercedes
January 27, 2014 9:26 PM   Subscribe

Force Required To Deploy Airbags: Mercedes -- Don't know if any of you have since this video making it's way around the net. I'm sure people here know the technical specifications involved. Would this even be possible? Would imagine the woman would need a bag full of bricks haha
posted by Nicholas Geary to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (10 answers total)
Wouldn't work even if a grown man hit it with a sledgehammer. The entire car would have to be moved forcefully backwards for the airbags to deploy, the equivalent of the car running into a brick wall at 25 mph. That's a lot of force.
posted by empath at 9:35 PM on January 27, 2014

Fake. Note the relatively slow inflation speed, and no bag deflation. This has been around for many years. It's an ad for Ikea.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 10:03 PM on January 27, 2014

Also it's likely that the airbag computer is tied into the speedometer and won't activate the airbags unless the car is actually traveling above a certain speed. Otherwise they'd be popping off every time you got a little sloppy when parallel parking.
posted by bizwank at 10:04 PM on January 27, 2014

They'll go off if it's stopped and you get hit, but like I said, it would have to be a 25mph collision.
posted by empath at 10:18 PM on January 27, 2014

Fake. And its from this Ikea advert according to this Snopes thread.

I remember hearing a story from a while back about makers of a particular car who were so confident in their new locking system that they arranged a press conference where professional car thieves would be invited to try their best to break in. The first guy to take the challenge came along and kicked the front of the car hard thus deploying the air bags and disabling the locks. Also I fake I'm pretty sure.
posted by rongorongo at 2:34 AM on January 28, 2014

Not on modern cars (because yes, they only arm above a certain speed), but when they were first introduced some cars were notorious for having sensitive airbag triggers. Apparently they'd go off if you mounted a kerb vigorously enough.

Also, they're incredibly loud and vigorous when they do go off. If this guy had his hand on the centre of the steering wheel, he'd probably have at least a broken wrist, and possibly also a broken nose.
posted by regularfry at 5:27 AM on January 28, 2014

Not possible. You have to hit a car pretty hard to get the airbags to go off. And it's fairly traumatic when they do.

Example. warning, redneck idiocy
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 6:37 AM on January 28, 2014 [2 favorites]

Airbags also are coated with a bit of powder to keep from sticking to itself while folded up in the steering wheel. If you've ever seen one go off there's a fair amount of powder in the air.
posted by JoeZydeco at 7:37 AM on January 28, 2014

The Wikipedia page on airbags is relatively informative. It sounds like the trigger mechanism for early airbags was basically a ball held in a tube by a magnet - sufficient force along would be enough to move the ball and trigger the bag. These days there is an Airbag Control Unit which polls several sensors such as those detecting wheel movement, seat occupancy, brake sensors and gyroscopes - this combination that makes accidental deployment much less likely.

Mercedes were one of the first companies to experiment with airbags - introducing them onto the S-Class back in 1980. Even at this point the idea had been in the lab since the 1960s. So there is just the possibility that the granny had a memory of earlier models and decided to take a chance.
posted by rongorongo at 8:39 AM on January 28, 2014

I think statute of limitations has expired has tolled long enough in the past that I can safely tell this story. When airbags first came out (I believe this incident took place in 1984 or 85), we were very curious about them so a friend rented a car with the new gizmo and obtained all the optional damage waiver insurance coverage they offered. He then collected a group of us and we belted ourselves in securely and he proceded to smash the car into a light post at the parking lot of the local mall at a fairly brisk speed. The impact was sufficient to cause the radiator to fail and begin spewing steam, but failed to set off the airbags. This required him to back up and take another run at the concrete abutment surrounding the post at a somewhat higher speed. We were all astonished at just how hard you had to smash into the post to actually deploy the airbag. I seriously doubt any human would have been capable of delivering such a blow personally even with a sledgehammer. To those readers horrified by my lack of personal responsibility and bad behavior, I can only agree with you and express generally that I'm glad you don't know the really bad stories of my misspent youth. He did get a small burn and we all had ringing ears and some seat belt bruises, but no one was permanently damaged in this particular adventure.
posted by Lame_username at 10:40 AM on January 28, 2014 [4 favorites]

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