Outdoors

Automatic rollover protection system stays down until it's time to roll

Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover
Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover
View 12 Images
The Air-Rops is on the front, compared to traditional systems
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The Air-Rops is on the front, compared to traditional systems
Air-Rops expands upwards and outwards
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Air-Rops expands upwards and outwards
Air-Rops is designed to stop drivers being crushed under a rolled tractor
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Air-Rops is designed to stop drivers being crushed under a rolled tractor
The system is designed to cover  a greater area than usual rollover hoops
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The system is designed to cover  a greater area than usual rollover hoops
The hoop activates when its sensors detect an irreversible rollover
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The hoop activates when its sensors detect an irreversible rollover
Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover
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Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover
The Air-Rops is on the front, compared to traditional systems
7/12
The Air-Rops is on the front, compared to traditional systems
Air-Rops expands upwards and outwards
8/12
Air-Rops expands upwards and outwards
Air-Rops is designed to stop drivers being crushed under a rolled tractor
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Air-Rops is designed to stop drivers being crushed under a rolled tractor
The system is designed to cover  a greater area than usual rollover hoops
10/12
The system is designed to cover  a greater area than usual rollover hoops
The hoop activates when its sensors detect an irreversible rollover
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The hoop activates when its sensors detect an irreversible rollover
Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover
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Air-Rops is designed to keep farm workers safe in the event of a rollover

Quad bikes are handy tools for farm workers, but their short wheelbase and narrow track makes them prone to rollovers. The danger is so great, employers in Victoria, Australia are being forced to fit hoops to protect riders from being crushed on the job. A Spanish team has created Air-Rops, a system which automatically deploys rollover protection when it detects a roll to keep people safe not only on ATVs, but also tractors, ride-on lawnmowers, and other agricultural machinery.

Although the motivation behind rollover hoops is noble, creating a practical one isn't all that easy. Fixed devices tend to get stuck on low-hanging branches, and foldable roll-hoops tend to spend most of their time, well, folded away because of the effort involved in taking them down when they get in the way.

The Air-Rops automatic rollover protection system is designed to circumvent these issues by automatically expanding when it detects a rollover. The system relies on an accelerometer, gyroscope and inclinometer to detect an "irreversible overturn situation." When a vehicle reaches that point, the hoop extends upwards and outwards to create a large safe space in just 150 milliseconds.

Inside the hoop's corrosion-resistant metal frame, there's a triggering device, gas generator and a latching mechanism. Air-Rops says the gas generator is similar to the ones found in car airbags, making for a quick pop up when it's called on.

Should one element of the system fail, there are a set of redundancies built in. As well as a background warning system, which tells drivers when something's not working, a backup battery is fitted to make sure an electrical system failure doesn't stop the hoop activating. The control unit has also been designed with redundant channels built in, so if one element fails it should still react to the rollover.

At the moment, the Air-Rops team is in talks with ATV and ride-on lawnmower manufacturers and dealers about fitting its product to vehicles and has also received interest from tractor dealers and agricultural companies. The company is currently focused on developing the ECU to meet functional safety standards and is looking to conduct environmental, mechanical resistance and field tests, which are planned for 2017 and 2018, with the hopes of getting the system on the market at the end of 2018.

The video below provides an overview of the system.

Source: Air-Rops

Air-Rops (CPD) corporate video (English)

4 comments
Techtwit
Would it not be more reliable protection, simpler and cheaper to have a permanently deployed protector which could be lowered by a dead mans handle device when the driver sees an obstacle whic he/she can't circumvent other ways? The dead man's handle (with an automatic timer controlling maximum duration of deployment to prevent abuse) solution means component failure defaults to safe mode.
Javier
Hello techwit, Your proposal is just right but our experience investigating machinery rollover accidents for more than 40 years demonstrates that safety devices should be independent and not interact with the operator or they will be manipulated or even removed, even a simple lever folding and unfolding the structure. In terms of reliability, additional mechanisms would require maintenance and added complexity (cost) that could lead to a failure. Existing solutions (fixed/foldable ROPS) have demonstrated not to work, even if a simple action of lowering/rising the structure is required. The state of the art allows very low cost solutions to fullfil the safety function. It is the time to put them in the market so people Can see them work and require machinery manufacturers to ha them installed
Bob
Not much good if the operator is not wearing a seat belt or harness.
Javier
ROPS are designed to provide a safety space upon rollover. Restraint is necessary to keep the driver in this space. But experience shows that if no restraint is used is still better to have the ROPS installed. The driver often holds on to the vehicle thinking it's not going to roll, but normally does and is too late