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Alpinestars' Wearable Airbag for Motorcyclists

The new Tech-Air Street System detects crashes and deploys in milliseconds to protect the wearer's vital organs

by Katharine Erwin
on 22 December 2014
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Motorsports outfitter Alpinestars has reached another milestone in its illustrious 50-year history. After giving professional motorcycle racers and track riders the Tech-Air Race electronic airbag suit—which in essence inflates at the very moment of collision to protect the wearer like a body-surrounding-airbag—the company has fulfilled its promise to bring the Tech-Air technology to street riders with the recent launch of the Tech-Air street airbag system. In the form of a detachable vest that fits into two different jackets, the street system is the world's first completely self-contained airbag system. The vest does not require any sensors on the bike and can be used with any motorcycle and/or scooter, on- and off-road.

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Alpinestars has evolved the race system for the street by only using three sensors that detect changes in altitude and acceleration forces and react to excessive altitude or impact energy. Providing complete body protection when inflated, covering the back, kidney areas, chest and the shoulders, the vest is made of a "one-piece woven" material that alone contains the ultra thin airbag. The vest’s battery is charged by a mirco-SD port, and when fully charged, will provide 25 hours of use. Housing for the dual canisters is neatly tucked in the back protector of the vest.

Technology for the street system is a culmination of over a decade of crash laboratory research with over 30 full crash tests, plus 300,000 km of street testing and a significant amount of off-road testing to assess both the capabilities of the system in extreme environments and the stability of the electronic algorithm controlling the airbag deployment. "We want the most reliable, effective and fastest crash protection possible," says Alpinestars' lead engineer Colin Ballantyne.

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In a recent crash test held in Milan for media, the street version had an impressive detection time of 59 milliseconds and a deployment time of 25 milliseconds. The airbag worn by the test dummy was fully inflated before impact with the car, confirming the usefulness of the incredible feat of technology. The system will be available in Europe spring 2015, and sell for around $1,500. No date has been set for the US launch, though Alpinestars is committed to making the technology widely available in future.

Images courtesy of Alpinestars

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