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Anti SMIDSY A-Pillar design, Autoliv.

Discussion in 'General Motorcycling Discussion' started by robsalvv, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. From: http://www.visordown.com/motorcycle-news-industry/inflatable-metal-smidsy-prevention/19263.html

    Inflatable metal: SMIDSY prevention?
    Why packing cars full of explosives could make roads safer for bikes
    Posted: 18 October 2011

    ON the face of it cars and their drivers usually present a great enough threat to bikes without having extra explosives bolted to them, but a new technology from one of the world's leading car safety companies means doing just that.

    Autoliv is one of the pioneers when it comes to airbags, seatbelts and virtually all other types of car safety, and its latest innovation is a new design of windscreen pillar that's just a third of the thickness of a conventional one, improving the driver's angle of vision by 25 percent.

    Thick window pillars are the unwanted side effect of ever-stricter car safety laws, as making cars safer on the off-chance they might roll over means restricting the driver's vision at all times. Bad news for bikes, which are easily hidden behind thick pillars. When a driver says “Sorry mate, I didn't see you” the chances are he's telling the truth.

    Autoliv's new idea could solve the problem. Its thin pillars are inspired by airbags – they're made of metal that's cleverly folded into an air-tight tube, with an airbag-style explosive charge attached. On sensing the car's rolling over, the charge goes off, and the gas pressure it generates actually inflates the steel windscreen pillar in a fraction of a second, making it thicker and 45 percent stiffer than in its normal, folded state. So you get thin pillars most of the time, improving vision, and thick ones only when you actually need them.

    The firm reckons the same idea could be used elsewhere, too, for instance allowing parts of cars to be relatively 'soft' when they hit a pedestrian (or motorcyclist) but making them inflate and become more rigid when the car hits something harder.

    Sounds like a good idea to us.


    = = == = = = = = = = =
    Berluddy GREAT idea!

    • Like Like x 1
  2. Would be a great idea!, i think they should place a curtain style airbag under the bonnet of the cars, that would inflate and cushion the front quarter panel/wheel area and bonnet. That part of the car is often hit in SMIDSY accidents.

    I will also say, i drove my sisters new mazda 2 the other day, holy crap you cant see a thing in that car it has MASSIVE blind spots caused by its huge pillars. I guess its all about protecting the driver and making everyone else worse off as they slam into you.

    A key area of hazard is lane changes, you really cant see shit even if you headcheck as its B and C pillars are huge. I for one will be using a lot more caution around modern supermini style cars, even with a good driver who does headchecks, the cars design is inherently flawed and you still dont know for sure.
  3. This kind of technology would be an improvement but I doubt it will help the overall situation very much. I think the SMIDSY issue, in this form at least, is exaggerated quite a lot. It's obviously true that bikes are smaller and harder to see. But, from personal experience, I could probably count the number of times that a driver has looked straight through me on one hand (granted that I always ride the car mirrors).

    Rather, the chances are that when a driver says "Sorry mate, I didn't see you," what he really means is that he just didn't look - either because he's a lazy muppet, too stupid to think that it was necessary to look in that situation, or too distracted by whatever was going on inside his car. The problem is that almost all drivers would never admit that they didn't look. So any accident that occurs as a result will go down on the records as "driver looked, but failed to notice motorcyclist" and reinforces the idea that the main problem is the small size of motorcycles.

    This technology is a welcome addition but it won't fix bad driving, which is a far bigger issue than the fact that motorcyclists are harder to see.

    My 2c.
  4. Very thankful someone is trying to do something about the ever increasing size of windscreen pillars with airbags. The ones in commodores are a freaking joke you have to move your head all the way to the left to not obscure vision in some circumstances eg. tight corners.
  5. has potential but a few problems that am not sure they have looked at,

    - it increases the bending strength of the pillar when it inflates, but not the shear strength as it cannot strengthen it at the end connection to the body and roof.

    - it must be effectively a sealed system for an explosive for it to work (from what i read) so any small dent or damage from general use might, when it 'exploded' lead to a tear in the metal and make it ineffective and/or dangerous.

    - SMIDSY is probably more prevalent from car divers as opposed to vans, utes trucks etc. (but could also be that riders are more careful around them) so is the restricted view really the problem. especially from a front pillar. also a bike helmet is a massive blind spot for riders, but we deal with it.

    but .. out there thinking is always tops and might make stuff safer.

    I still think the best way to make a car safe is to put a massive spike in the middle of the steering wheel, then the driver will think about what they are doing, as opposed to thinking they are in a safe capsule.

  6. This sort of thinking is really starting to get on my nerves. People just don't not look, or very very rarely. There could be a bike there, but there also could be a mac truck. If a driver doesn't look they have the same chance of seeing either. And yes people do fail to give way to mac trucks on occasion but far far far more common is failing to give way to a bike. This tells me looking and not seeing is a far bigger problem then just not looking.

    I'm not that worried about the driver who doesn't look. Darwins natural selection wil ensure they don't last very long on the road and probability says they will have a collision with something bigger than a bike.

    Also, yes, a driver seeing right through you is not that common, but when it happens it is going to be a very nasty crash and very difficult to avoid. So happening a handful of times is a handful too many.
  7. Man, we must be riding in very different worlds here. But there are a few reasons why bikes are more likely to be a problem for drivers who don't look. Firstly, larger vehicles, like mac trucks, are far more likely to be picked up by peripheral vision (ie without specifically looking), and will probably never be concealed in the blind spot of a driver's mirrors (ie you will probably never need to do a head check to see one). In general, its more likely that you will need to do a head check to see a bike than a car. Secondly, bikes are more rapid in their acceleration and less predictable in their movements - they have a greater capacity to be somewhere that a car driver doesn't expect than larger vehicles. Thirdly, bikes can ride through spaces that car drivers can't - a classic case where a lot of drivers will just assume that space is free and not bother checking before they move in to or across it. Finally, an accident caused by the failure to look it likely to have more destructive consequences when a bike is involved - thus we're more likely to hear about it.

    I accept that sometimes drivers are more likely to miss a bike when they have a very brief, passing glance at oncoming traffic, without thinking much about it. But I'd put that into the category of bad driving as well.

    As I said, I do everything in my power to make sure I am visible to car drivers that are poised to take me out - lanes positioning, slowing down, weaving left and right etc. So maybe I'm only left noticing the ones who don't look at all.
    • Like Like x 2
  9. I do see what you are saying. And yes people will merge into you etc without looking. However, these types of accidents are rarely going to be lethal and entirely predictable by competent riders.

    The accident that really scares me is a failure to give way. And this is what SMIDSY refers to. No they are not that common (although I had a van turn in front of me yesterday from the other side of traffic and stop in my lane when he saw me. Just got around his front). But when they occur they are going to hurt a lot. And when they happen they are going to be a lot harder to avoid.

    I frankly don't give a shit about drivers not head checking, not looking in their mirrors etc because I rarely put myself in a situation where they can get me. However it is impossible to avoid passing a car coming out a side street or turning from the other side of the road and if they look straight through you you're boned.
    • Like Like x 2
  10. Let's see that sort of technology applied to the B and C pillars as well!!!

    Back in the 60s the American manufacturers recognised the problem with thick A pillars and for some years built their cars with exaggerated "L"-shaped corners on the screen. It was great for visibility but it didn't last because people complained of bashing their knees on the trailing edge when they got into the car....
  11. Lane change SMIDSY's are not the killer. They're easy to manage as a rider, stay in their mirrors, don't be in the blindspot. But even a lane change SMIDSY is still a driver error - but that's NOT the issue here.

    "Right of Way" violations at intersections, uturns and driveways... now, THEY are killers. I've had whole cars hidden behind my commode's front pillars - so it's pretty easy for a motorcycle to be hidden. Also, drivers don't see what they don't expect to see. If they give a quick glance down the road and don't see a car or truck shaped object... bewdy, they plant the foot... oops, sorry Mr motorcyclists/cyclist.

    This design feature reduces the blindspot. Even if there's now one less hinderance to a driver's vision, drivers are still fallible to the host of cognitive and physiological reasons they don't see motorcycles in addition to the simple failing to look.

    I've been pulled out on many times, even by drivers looking directly at me, but these days I deal with the scenario dispassionately because I expect it. I'm accounting for and allowing for driver error. It shouldn't have to be that way.
    • Like Like x 2
  12. Guys, I’m not talking specifically about lane changes, although that does appear to be an area that a lot of drivers have a problem with. Let me share some personal experiences with you. Off the top of my head, I can recount five times that a driver pulled out across the front of me this year.

    The first one occurred at a T intersection on a country road with an 80kph speed limit. Perfect daylight. I’m cruising along with a car approaching on my left. No other vehicles in sight. It’s a full car. At the point where the car enters the intersection the driver is looking left, appears to be talking to someone in the passenger seat or back seat. If she looked right at all, it was before she was anywhere near the intersection.

    The second one occurred in the above location. Driver pulling out of car park A, with cars parked at B and C. She probably looked right before crossing the bike lane, and probably expected that, if there had been cars coming down the main lane, she would have seen them over or through the parked vehicles. When reaches the main lane she turns left without turning her head to the right at all. She’s locked in conversation with her passenger. When I pull up next to her driver’s window further down the road and start trying to get her attention she doesn’t even notice me waving at her. Eventually she sees me next to her window when I beep me horn.

    The third occurred here on a Friday night. I’m following the closest arrow, leading a bunch of traffic after we’d stopped at a red light. A car full of younglings reverses out of one of the driveways to the right of A, crosses the first two lanes (approaching the camera) to twist the car around and go the same direction I’m going. I come to a complete stop, as does the ocean of cars behind me, waiting for them to take off. The people in the back seat of the car start freaking out. That manoeuvre couldn’t be described as anything other than complete, ball-breaking stupidity. There is no way that driver could have seen what was coming down both sides of the road through their back windows from within their driveway.

    The fourth occasion was the only one that caught me off guard. CBD on a Saturday night. I’m proceeding through the intersection near Peter Stevens, going down Elizabeth Street. A taxi is waiting on my left to complete a hook turn, with a cop car waiting behind them. The light turns yellow just before I enter the intersection, and the taxi tries to do his hook turn across the front of me. I suppose it’s possible that he looked and didn’t see me, but in this scenario it’s beside the point. He’s supposed to wait for a green light on the road that he’s turning into. That is to say, he was running a red light – which is stupid driving, if you ask me.

    On the last occasion, a 4WD pulled out across the front of me on a suburban single lane road. No other vehicles present. It’s possible that she looked and didn’t see me or misjudged my speed, for whatever reason.

    Sure, it’s just anecdotal experience, and I’ll be the first to advocate throwing that kind of data in the bin if you have some better alternative. But that’s the angle that I’m coming from.

    Mate, as I said, you and I must be riding in totally different universes, because I ride on roads where people do stupid things all the time. But if you really don’t believe anyone is that stupid, just look at the thread in the Politics forum at the moment – a 58 year old driver pulls out despite being blinded by sun glare. That is stupidity. The fact is that a lot of people are driving around unconsciously, rocking out to blaring music, in a social club, or stressing out about the client that they’re losing at work. And let’s not even talk about the ones who just don’t give a shit.
  13. I suppose we may be defining what looking is differently. While your cases do seem to suggest they didn't look I still find it hard to believe that there was no glance what so ever. At least checking the immediate accident area and not the near miss area. Unless a driver fails to understand that they are supposed to give way at an intersection I just can't see someone entering without some evidence that the road is clear.

    The first case may be the exception. On a road where traffic is so rare that someone coming out of a side road, never expects traffic they may solely be relying on their periphery and I can see a car entering without looking. As a mainly city rider I haven't really considered this scenario too much. But as you suggested there may have been an earlier glance, that was not sufficient to identify you. Hard to say.

    The second scenario is definitely what I would consider a look but didn't see scenario. She has looked but hasn't accounted for blind spots created by parked cars. And this is one very similar to how the OP will help prevent accidents. People will look get an all clear message and fail to account for blind spots.

    The third again is created by blind spots which looking at your picture are abundant. It also doesn't sound like it was all that close to a near miss. People do have the expectation that people will stop for them to perform reverse manoeuvres on busy roads. They probably knew you were there, or at least out of the zone where you would not be expected to stop.

    The fourth has to be your classic look but didn't see SMIDSY. Someone waiting to go at an intersection has surely looked and failed to process your presence. And as you say this is the only one that caught you off guard. This is why we harp on about looking but not seeing as it is dangerous and does catch an experienced rider off guard.

    The 5th I don't have enough information to really comment.

    All of yours were near misses and only one was close (the one that was definitely a look but didn't see). The other 4 sound like you had plenty of time to avoid. People will also look far enough to confirm that there is not likely to be an accident but not far enough to make sure that no one has to near miss. If you were in a position where the driver would have definitely taken you out, chances are in each of these scenarios you would have been seen.

    My scenario on Tuesday morning. I was riding along in the right of the left lane of a two lane road. A van drives across at me from the other side of the road turning into a side street, no indicator. I had no time to even get to the brake and managed to swerve about half a meter. The van saw me and stopped covering the right lane and a little bit of the left and I got round the front. But if he didn't see me at the last second I most likely wouldn't be here now. 60 km/h into the side of a van wouldn't have been fun. The difference is this is a near miss of inches avoiding at speed and is very different to a near miss where you just manage to stop in time.
  14. can I gently suggest that we continue to discuss the technical innovation Rob posted up, rather than having this degenerate into another SMIDSY thread?
    • Like Like x 1
  15. Sorry guys...

    These frames are great. I don't understand how decreasing your semi frontal vision by so much can be considered a "safety feature".
  16. car pillars are thick for roof strength in case of a rollover

    in reality, I suspect it's because the car BODY has been built so light for fuel economy that if the roof pillars wern't three feet thick the car would fold up like an origami exercise...

    either way, thick pillars are the motorcyclists' and pedestrians' enemy; go outside and hold up a pencil vertically and see how close a rider is and you still can't see him 'behind' it....
  17. Interesting idea. I can envisage some issues down the track if it becomes widespread if one of the fully sik crew decides they want a pillar mounted boost gauge...

    For a different approach, Volvo had a concept car a few years ago with a lattice structure for the a pillar. Don't think it went anywhere.

  18. …and then see how little you need to move your head laterally to make them fully visible.
  19. you know, you can get treatment for paranoia