What do Ford’s latest safety innovation and director/filmmaker James Cameron have in common? Both have received a prestigious technology award from Popular Mechanics.
Ford’s innovative, industry-first rear inflatable seat belts have been named a Breakthrough Product Award winner by Popular Mechanics, part of the magazine’s seventh annual Breakthrough Awards.
Lead developer Srini Sundararajan recently accepted the prestigious honor at a ceremony in New York City. The development of the technology was a team effort, Sundararajan said, and he’s proud that effort is being recognized.
“Ford’s goal is to develop innovative safety technologies that give our customers more peace of mind, so it is a great honor to receive the Breakthrough Technology Award,” said Sundararajan, safety technical leader for Ford Research and Innovation. “I thank Popular Mechanics for recognizing the contributions of a number of dedicated engineers from Ford.”
The rear inflatable seat belts are designed to provide additional protection for rear seat occupants. They combine the attributes of traditional seat belts and airbags to help provide an added level of crash safety protection for rear seat occupants.
The advanced restraint system is designed to help reduce head, neck and chest injuries for rear seat passengers, often children and older passengers who can be more vulnerable to such injuries. Ford introduced the inflatable rear seat belts in the all-new Explorer, bolstering the Explorer’s already extensive suite of safety innovations. The vehicle, which also made its regional debut at the GITEX Technology Week last week as Official Car of the Show, already has seen strong demand from customers for its safety and driver-assist technologies.
Early data showed approximately 40 percent of Explorer buyers are parents who are ordering the rear inflatable belts.
The rear inflatable seat belt technology will be introduced in more vehicles globally
Ford is traveling in fine company. The Popular Mechanics Breakthrough Awards are given in two categories: innovators, whose inventions will make the world smarter, safer and more efficient in the years to come; and products, which are setting benchmarks in design and engineering today.
Other winning products include smog-eating tile, a light bulb rated to burn for 25,000 hours, and a telescope equipped with built-in tracking cameras and a database of more than 4,000 heavenly objects so sighting stars takes less than three minutes.
Winning innovators include film director Cameron, who is being honored for his pioneering work in CGI for building the world’s most advanced 3D camera.
In selecting the candidates and winners of the 2011 Breakthrough Awards, the editors of Popular Mechanics canvassed a wide range of experts to come up with a list of worthy innovators, and then consulted dozens of past Breakthrough Award winners in fields ranging from aerospace and robotics to medicine and energy.