Automotive Airbag Testing with High-Speed Digital Video

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One of the most significant advancements in automotive safety has been the development of the airbag safety restraint system. Its purpose is to cushion and protect vehicle occupants during a crash from impacting with other interior objects, such as the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, side windows and pillars. Along with hundreds of vehicle safety improvements, airbags have contributed to a phenomenal increase in highway safety, reducing deaths by over 80% in the past 50 years.

Airbag restraint systems use a pyrotechnic source to rapidly inflate the bag when a crash condition is sensed, usually by solid state crash sensors (accelerometers) strategically located in the vehicle. The entire deployment and inflation process takes just 30 milliseconds, thus airbag testing requires a high-speed image sensor with much higher frames per second than typical vehicle crash testing. High-speed automotive imaging is necessary to capture the sequential series of airbag images at very high frame rates and played back in slow-motion to enable a detailed study. Image sensors with speeds of 3000 to 5000 fps are typically used in airbag testing.

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Forza Silicon specializes in the design and manufacture of custom CMOS image sensors for high-resolution, high-speed digital video camera manufacturers. These image sensors typically feature very high-speed electronic global shutters, some with exposure times as short as 1 µs, making them ideal for airbag testing.

Forza also developed a high-speed camera with high-definition capability for automotive imaging. Frames rates of 5000 fps make it ideal for airbag testing.