Honda Developing Seats With Built-In Suspension System

Technology / 9 Comments

These shocks can absorb the additional load impact not already absorbed by external shocks.

As discovered by CarBuzz, Honda has filed a patent with the United States Patent and Trademark Office for shock absorbers that can be mounted to the seat frame of a vehicle, theoretically making for a less jarring and more comfortable experience for occupants, while also having a safety benefit in certain crash scenarios.

Whereas conventional, external vehicle shock absorbers are designed to absorb some of the impact load when a car hits an obstacle, be it a speed bump or something more dangerous like a rock, some of this impact load can still be transmitted to the passenger compartment during harsher surface impacts when they can cause discomfort and even injury.

Honda specifically points to body regions like the tibia and elbow being affected in a discomforting manner. With additional shock absorbers as part of the seat frame, however, the remaining impact load can be absorbed before it unsettles occupants.


Honda repeatedly references "collisions" in the patent documentation, but we presume this doesn't only involve serious crashes, but also when the wheels strike bumps, hit objects like rocks and potholes in the road, or traverse rougher terrain. However, the company also stated that the seat shock absorbers could help cushion occupants in the event of a more serious collision with another car or a tree. This makes sense due to the forces that our bodies are subjected to in a crash, when the main point of contact is with the seat.

"In certain cases, during severe collisions of obstacles against the vehicle, the external shock absorbers may partially absorb the impact load and transmit the remaining impact load to the occupant compartment," says the description of the device. "The bracket located in the occupant compartment may absorb the remaining impact load that may not be dampened by the external shock absorbers."

Honda is constantly working to improve vehicle safety, so this seat idea is in line with that goal which includes its award-winning airbag that lowers the risk of brain injuries.


The shock absorber could come with a cover made from fabric-wrapped plastic, and this part of the bracket can absorb the impact load before it reaches the seat itself. The bracket itself could come with two portions - one being an arcuate or rounded surface with a larger surface area - to further shield occupants seated above from the impact load.

Car seats have evolved considerably through the years. On high-end vehicles, they're now much more than places to sit as you commute from point A to point B, needing to also incorporate features like heating, cooling, massaging, power adjustment, side airbags, and seatbelt reminder sensors - at least, until seatbelts start vibrating to remind you to buckle up. But the ability to mitigate the discomfort felt by rough road surfaces and obstacles hasn't really gone much further than the foam used in seats and the tuning of the suspension and related external components.

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Honda's solution - if it reaches production - is quite an advancement for seat design, going beyond the material inside the seat itself to keep occupants comfortable. And, from a safety perspective, these seats can work with airbags and existing crumple zones to minimize the impact on occupants in a crash.

By supplementing its seat designs with small shock absorbers in its base, Honda could have the edge over the competition, although the discernable difference in ride comfort remains to be seen. Crash authorities like the NHTSA and IIHS may also reveal if such a seat design has any tangible effect on occupant safety.

If the feature does make it beyond the patent stage, though, we expect it to debut on pricier models like a top-spec Pilot. The technology may even be reserved for the company's luxury arm, Acura, and could give Nissan and Infiniti's excellent Zero Gravity, NASA-inspired seats a run for their money.

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