Filed with the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the application describes this airbag system as having a mechanism similar to that found in vehicle interiors to protect occupants.
In this case, however, these airbags are mounted in the front end structure of the vehicle, spreading from behind the grille and covering the front edge of the hood. Broadly speaking, these airbags are installed to protect the frontal structure from being too crushed in an accident, and to reduce the pressure received by the passengers.
In its application, Ford says the system can be used in most types of private passenger vehicles, such as SUVs, crossovers, pickup trucks and minivans.
Ford isn’t actually the only company experimenting with external airbags. In 2019, German auto parts manufacturer ZF demonstrated a similar prototype for side collisions. The technology is designed to provide an additional zone of protection and can help absorb up to 40% impact energy.
Unfortunately, ZF has not included the prototype as one of the products produced. It’s possible that Ford will have better luck with future versions of this technology.