Biking accidents trigger Cirrus airbag cycling jacket to auto-inflate
Although a helmet is an essential piece of cycling gear, it doesn't protect any body parts other than the head. That's where the Cirrus airbag jacket comes in, as it auto-inflates to protect the back, chest, neck and abdomen.
Designed by Paris-based startup Urban Circus, the Cirrus looks relatively normal in its default state. It has a waterproof, windproof yet breathable polyester shell, with reflective panels containing microscopic glass beads that make it highly visible when illuminated by car headlights.
As the user pedals, the relative speeds and orientations of the bike and the rider are continuously monitored by two inertial measurement units (IMUs) – one under the bicycle's saddle, and one in the jacket. Between the two of them, they instantaneously detect situations in which the bike comes to a sudden stop and the rider falls off.
Such situations could include front, side or rear collisions with moving vehicles, collisions with stationary objects, or simple losses of control resulting in wipe-outs.
In any case, within a claimed 0.08 seconds, a CO2 cartridge in the Cirrus responds by inflating a built-in nylon airbag that covers the rider's back, chest, abdomen and the back of their neck. By the time they hit the road – or whatever else is in their path – those areas should be considerably better impact-protected than they would be otherwise.
The airbag deflates within 10 minutes of deployment, after which it's good to go again. Users do, however, have to replace the CO2 cartridge, which is accessed via a zipper inside the jacket. And yes, the airbag and electronics can be removed for washing.
According to Urban Circus, the jacket and airbag system have a combined weight of 1.8 kg (4 lb), and should be good for about one week of standby use per 3-hour charge of their lithium batteries.
Some of the jacket's additional non-safety features include zippered vents, zippered pockets, built-in fingerless gloves, a helmet-accommodating hood, and a touchscreen-friendly smartphone pouch on one arm.
And as a side note, project partner/airbag manufacturer Helite previously developed an airbag vest for cyclists, called the B'Safe. Similar products are already available for motorcyclists and downhill skiers.
Should you be interested, the Cirrus is currently the subject of a Kickstarter campaign. Assuming it reaches production, a pledge of €438 (about US$520) will get you one – the planned retail price is $890.
You can see the jacket in self-inflating action, in the following video.