Because big holes cut into car roofs can be dangerous in a rollover.
Sometimes you’ve got to wonder whether all new vehicle advancements, either in design or any other area, are for the best. Case in point: Hyundai has just announced the world’s first panoramic sunroof airbag. Its goal is to prevent passengers from being thrown out of the car’s roof during a serious accident. Panoramic sunroofs have grown in popularity over the past few years because rear seat passengers like the open view. Fair enough, but this does pose a certain safety risk that Hyundai has rightly done something about.
The panoramic sunroof airbag is installed inside the sunroof itself, and deployed forward from the rear of the car, according to Hyundai’s press release. This airbag basically resembles the curtain airbag that’s deployed alongside the windows in a broadside collision. Hyundai explains that the panoramic sunroof airbag will deploy if the sensor detects the turning angle of the vehicle is changed because of a rollover. Like all airbags, this one’s deployment will happen very, very fast. Just 0.08 seconds, to be precise. Not only will the panoramic sunroof airbag help prevent passengers from being tossed through the roof, it’ll also reduce serious injuries within the passenger compartment.
Hyundai conducted simulations with test dummies to prove this. This new airbag system, however, is more complex than ordinary airbags and presented more technical difficulties for engineers to solve. During development, engineers knew it was vital to secure enough space for a stable airbag deployment, but the airbag also had to safely deploy when required. For example, say if the vehicle is overturned but the panoramic sunroof was closed, the airbag will still deploy between the sunroof glass and the sun shield. Of course, a panoramic sunroof wouldn’t be necessary at all if buyers preferred a proper roof over their heads instead of a big sheet of glass.