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To invent is to foresee (How to improve car safety)
Gennady Kizevich

September 20, 2004
Ideal airbag itself finds out the fact of collision and fills by Itself.

1. The ideal prognosis

The long-term forecast is wonderful. It is
forgotten before it is found inconsistent.

 

Prognosists are serious people. They avoid long-term forecasting and fantastical dreams. Their predictions are based on real facts and stable tendencies. If there are no pioneer inventions and new ideas radically changes traditional views on the technical systems or their parts, it means, there is no reason for sweeping changes.
The usual prognosis is a description of an S-shaped curve which smoothly rises in a hope to merge with a ceiling of the natural restrictions intrinsic to every technical system and to its design conception:

 

 

Many systems have already confirmed an S-shaped principle of their development and have convinced us that in conditions of mass production of similar products by similar way the tendencies of development forms a general stable channel which can be easily predicted.
As for TRIZ the situation looks like a familiar one but too conservative. If there are no obvious reasons for changes, it doesn't mean, that the systems free from internal problems and contradictions.
In a competitive environment (or solidarity of manufacturers of some kinds of potentially dangerous products) such contradictions are carefully concealed. Nobody wants to expose problems and thus to weaken market positions.
Acute prognostic with keen inventing inclinations understands it and is able to find out the latent contradictions and to propose ways of their elimination. Concepts of scientific discovery and quality leap are still alive for him! He has the right to break S-shaped “idyll” by intervention of new fruitful idea:

 

 

Every day the organizers of business should chose: whether to follow old well-known conception or to risk, give in to temptation and to invest in a new idea which promises additional profit and competitive advantages, but not immediately, and only in indefinite period of time or several years later. It is not simple task if to take into account interests of investors and that every new idea is far from being awarded with commercial success. Therefore more often inventors receive refusal. To hear “Yes” is a fantastic luck even from the people who know invention price very well. Reasons for refusal do not in “short-sightedness of bureaucrats”, but in “sensible conservatism”. Small improvements of components of “old” machines making in huge quantity give fast and reliable income. Therefore radical innovations are born more often in small university laboratories and family garages. They are developed and ripen on short rations. It is easy to sell mature inventions which are ready to the immediate use. They are in demand.
Is there a way to overcome a long and burdensome stage of ripening of idea? Is it possible to learn to generate tempting ideas and present them to accept it without delay? Can be inventions easily acceptable and radical at the same time?
It seems TRIZ have answers on these tricky questions. Such inventions should offer “ideal” solutions “forever”. Both an inventor and those, whom the inventions are presented to, should see them in better quality. It is the most natural and reliable way to show TRIZ value and inventors who own this art.
From several innovation ideas the author can offer to car producers, there are three samples showing how to improve car passive safety in this article. 
 

 2. Prediction Tree and its products

Painter needs paintbrush and knowledge where to direct it.
Julia K. (5 years old)

 

If you are interested in the solution concrete problem, you start with exact definition of target and a choice of means to achieve it. If you are interested in a new knowledge, you will engage in studying of structure and properties of object. But if you want to make the invention forever, you need all!
Step by step you collect all available ideas and means, including collection of invention methods. The fuller the “basket” the more opportunities you get. If you know everything you have chances to make best inventions.
And now the main sacrament: to extract an ideal solution from a multi-dimensions space of opportunities (elements, links and principles)!
I should disappoint you. Even if a “miracle” is worked, it's an insoluble problem to understand itself and to prove that it has taken place to associates and critics. To estimation an invention it should be compared with “a scale”, i.e. a row similar ideas and inventions. And the best variant is to find image of the ideal decision.

“The basket of opportunities” is necessary not only for combine millions of variants, but to order knowledge and forecast. Old ideas and inventions form a trunk and skeletal branches of the basic tendencies on which grow new fruit branches decorated with colors of perspective ideas. It is a predicting tree in its blossom.

In an initial stage such a tree only accumulates knowledge in a given area and presents them in convenient kind for perception and forecasting. At this stage there is nothing surprising that 100 % of skeletal branches and 90 % of fruits are known ideas. However the first crop from such tree we can be collected during its building (construction). Combinations of the neighboring ideas which inventor have got in sight give such opportunity.
Two examples:

  • seat belt + airbag = inflatable seat belt;
  • airbag + upholster = inflatable upholstery.

However if from beginning we did not suppose an opportunity of change of “fundamental” principles, we get only the strategy of adaptation supposing introduction of innovations in the conservative environment without rights to radical changes. It means to catch the “ideal” solution should be sought in a labyrinth of rigid restrictions and the settled rules which by order of magnitude reduce productivity of a prediction tree.
Patent funds confirm it quite well: 99 from 100 new inventions in the field of passive safety are stacked in traditional frameworks and put the problem to improve details, practically not mentioning the basic problems of airbag based safety: the false operation, inadequate and superfluous action.
It is strange, but the airbags is rather dangerous equipment. The key element of airbags is gasgenerator. It is similar to mine with electric detonator. Energy of the built-in charge of low-energy explosive is necessary for fast filling a airbag. Because of malfunction of the sensors or the processor finding the fact of collision, “mine” blows up. Adults receive traumas, children die (perish) [1]. Airbag was born in the serial version with such congenital defect and continued to be multiplied in millions, filling up statistics in hundreds fatal cases per year. Small malfunction in electroposting, the mistake of a computer, corrosion of the gauge or innocent sliding impact result in misfortunes. Mean of a protection device has turned to the factor of serious risk. It's amazing paradox!
Following the principle opened of 30 years ago, inventors of airbags actually develop only one direction. It can be submitted by a scheme chain as follows: 

 

 

Superfluous action of airbag speaks about functional excess of gasgenerator and the system in the whole. Therefore a new generation of expensive cars is supplied multi-steps gas generators which will fill airbags with portion of gas proportional to force of impact. This adjusting methodology improves situation, bat does not solve a problem. The danger of false “undermining” of charges still remains.
Construction a tree of predicting is a reliable innovational strategy. To majority of researchers it remains unique on all life. However there is a different strategy. It is based on searching an image of the ideal decision.

What for such image if the ideal is achievable? Everything is very simple. A new image of ideal stimulates birth new concepts and forms a basis for creation pioneer inventions. As a matter of fact, such strategy represents a way to the required decision from top. A predicting tree represents way to ideal from the bottom.
Both strategies supplement each other, do not opposing values. The way from the top enables to find solution, going down from ideal to a level of realizable prototype. The way from bottom is found on experience of the past, however quite often leads up in blind alley. The image of an ideal is a reference point indicating exit from impasse and show a true direction.
The beauty of technical system consists of successful composition of two properties: completeness and minimalism. We shall try to build the strategy of the solution on the basis of principles of minimization and combining functions. Our formulation of ideal airbag takes following classical kind:

Ideal airbag itself finds out the fact of collision and fills by Itself!

Such ideal assumes giving away any external control system (sensors and processors). Moreover, it demands to remove gasgenerator is a “heart” of the system. It is unprecedented! The system will lose ability to work! How it possible?
It is possible if a part of the airbag is filled with gas and placed inside bumpers or instead it [3]:


 

At collision there is more than enough energy. We use it for actuating system of safety. Thus the crumpled air bags will swallow up a significant part of impact energy which is spent for filling of airbags and protection of people.
It is strange, but energy of impact can be used as a useful resource. It is a good example an action of paradoxical method to use harm for benefit.
It seems we have coped, with frontal impact and impact in back. How to withstand a side impact?


 

Strong on break creased air container we shall place inside of a door and we shall leave a little place for a lowered glass. Protective bars inside a door we shall replace with a basic board which will be displaced to the internal side of door. In case of collision it, firstly it helps to oust out gas from flexible container inside a door in lateral airbags of safety and, secondly it protect space of occupants section.
It is easy to guess, that the internal upholstery of doors and roof props of the car also can be made inflatable and at the same time (following principle of a minimalism) to cease to hide inflatable devices for plastic shield's. Accurately stacked and attached to a ceiling and lateral racks inflatable subjects of safety are capable to replace a upholstery. In case of collision it is not necessary the airbags do not have to break through plastic shields, which sharp edges representing additional danger.
Now an impact in a wing of the car is not dangerous for as well. We lay the container filled with harmless gas. One bag in every wing! They take up impacts and fill those pillows which are necessary in the given corner of automobile occupants section.
Such safety system is really safe. It instant “switches on” and starts to work there and then, where and when it is completely necessary. It does not require power supplies and strike sensors. Therefore false operation is impossible absolutely.
But what to do in case of overturning? It is a good reason inflates a mattress of safety placed to a ceiling of occupants section instead of traditional soft upholstery. Crests on edges and along a mattress protect heads of occupants from lateral impacts and, probably, protect cervical vertebras of those who forgot to fasten safety belt.
How a mattress can be filled with?


 

Again we need a pulse gasgenerator. Since a space reserve for air container is not available in a car (if it not the catafalque) we should take a step back and to use traditional gasgenerator, but without an electric detonator. We shall arrange on a roof of the automobile something similar on anti-infantry mine. Pressing or strong impact on a roof at a car overturning will result in gasgenerator action. Saving “explosion” will fill inflatable upholstery of ceiling and will preserve lives inside the car.
So, we had boldness to define an ideal airbag and have received motive for sweeping changes and getting rid of inertia of dominant concept. We used principles of minimization and combining of functions. We have looked at automobile buffer and have found a reserve of space. We had enough imagination to fancy collision of car in full details, and have found a free-of-charge resource and a successful opportunity to turn harm on benefit. The unique method/principle on the contrary again has surprised us with the paradoxical result: again invented “anti-infantry mine” has ceased to kill and has “learned” to protect lives.
Are there different ways to incise car safety?
To achieve a desirable result it is possible to increase of durability of a body and deduction of people on the place by means of belts and collection inflatable pillows. It can be done by way of radical reduction of impact force people is exposed at automobile collision. And approaches there are resources and ways how to achieve the task. For example, paradoxical method on the contrary can be used to save lives at a head-on collision is not by increasing of a car body's resistance; bat on the contrary, by increasing a deformation zone! (Not due to occupants section, certainly).
Force of impact essentially depends on a time it lasts and on a distance dented buffer will moves in aside occupant section. In interests of occupant's safety this distance and this time were as much as possible.
In our disposal there are three ways to achieve the task [2, 3]:

1. To use powerful energy consuming buffer exposed far forward.

2. To remove occupants section back and to move a luggage section forward. But not to shock public, this operation can be done in two steps. Thus the car will get an extravagant sports look in early traditions of XX century. The occupants will be finally rid of a motor roar and an increased base (distance between axes of wheels) will give additional stability to the car:
 

 

3. To change a movement trajectory of occupant section and at the same time to evade impact. It seems improbable only at first sight. Today car engenders consider as obvious that occupant section should inevitably move aside obstacles, not changing a direction. Is it possible to do this somehow differently?

 

To ram the engine under occupants section is old and proven method. But it is possible to make on the contrary: to lift occupants section and to direct it atop of the engine and even atop of an obstacle. This is possible not only in fiction film. The forward part of the car can be used as a mobile support and as a springboard. Not only engine should be moved under occupants section. Forward part as a whole crashing and absorbing energy should lift upwards and pass forward occupants section. It is also desirable to make it smoothly, without separate sharp jerks. I.e. a motor section should be designed so that at a head-on collision it transform into a flexible absorber able to weaken impact energy and evade a blow.
New airbag and idea to change a direction of impact is only two examples how deviations from “general line” can affect a design of the modern car and essentially raise its quality.
 

 List of References:
1. Airbag Safety www.kgrs.com/info/airbag.htm, www.nsc.org/partners/safetips.htm.
2. Principles of Survival, a Theory of Every Day Creativity by Gennady Kizevich, Washington House, 2004. 

 

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