There's little doubt that knee airbags serve an important role in automobiles, protecting occupants' knees and shins from hard impacts against the dash in the event of a collision. However, as with any added component, they do take up space within the vehicle. Ford is addressing that factor in its 2015 Mustang, which will feature a passenger-side knee airbag that's built into the existing glove box.
Ordinarily, a knee airbag takes the form of a fabric "balloon" that is deployed from the underside of the dash, curving up in front of the passenger's legs as it rapidly inflates.
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In the new Mustang, however, the bag is an injection-molded plastic bladder that's sandwiched between the inner and outer glove box door panels. When an impact is detected, that bladder is inflated, pushing the flexible outer panel straight forward toward the passenger's legs. When their legs hit the panel, the force of the impact is evenly distributed across it, while also being absorbed by the bladder.
Because it takes a more direct route to the legs, the Mustang knee airbag doesn't need to be as big and heavy as its traditional counterparts. Additionally, because of the outer glove box panel's ability to distribute the force of the impact, the bag doesn't need to be inflated as highly in order to operate effectively. As a result, its inflator is about 75 percent smaller than that used by a regular knee airbag. Additionally, the whole system is a claimed 65 percent lighter.
Its smaller size means that the airbag takes up less room in the vehicle, giving the car more cabin space than its present-day predecessor. The 2015 Mustang will also feature twice as many airbags overall, along with additional impact sensors.
More information is available in the video below.