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The Physics of Airbags

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by

Lauren F

on 15 December 2015

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Transcript of The Physics of Airbags

"A safety device fitted inside of a motor vehicle, consisting of a cushion which will inflate rapidly when a collision has occurred, protecting passengers from hitting the side of a vehicle."
What do they do?
Airbags are designed to stop the occupants of the vehicle from crashing into the structure.

This ensures safety by decreasing the force of the impact and increasing time of impact. Even though it releases in 1/35th of a second, this added time prevents injury. It prevents occupants from going through the windshield and cushions the blow.
How do they work?
There are three parts:

The air bag, the sensor and the inflation system.
What are they?
How does it apply?
People inside of a car are traveling at the same speed of the car. Although they are not moving in the car, they are still moving.
When a force, such as another car, stops their car, the momentum of the person must be stopped by something due to their inertia.
The person wants to keep moving forward, as no force has acted on them. The airbag will act as this force to essentially keep them stationary.
Which law?
Newton's First Law

Newton's Laws!
If another car happens to slip in the opposite direction, cars are likely to collide. If they do collide, traveling with the same acceleration and with the same force, both cars will be destroyed.
If one car has a bigger mass, it will accelerate slower, but due to it's bigger mass it will most likely survive
The Beginning
If a car is on an icy road it can not get an traction. Newton's Third Law would usually be followed, as the tires push on the road, the road pushes back and the tires spin. In this case, the car can't push on the surface so the road cannot push back. The car slips
Airbags
Newton's Laws
Story Time!
The Physics of Airbags
"Objects at rest stay at rest, objects in motion stay in motion, unless acted upon by an unbalanced, outside force."
Steering wheel vs airbag
This will then cause the passenger in the car to be flung forward by their inertia. The action of the crash will cause a reaction in the airbag crash detector and it will fly out.
All three of Newton's Laws can be applied to car crashes and the need for airbags!
How do airbags relate to physics?
Full transcript