by Elton Gomes
Three engineering students from the Indian Institute of Technology (IT) Roorkee have come up with an ingenious design of an inflatable helmet. The helmet can be worn around the neck and remains folded like a collar, till the time impact is detected.
The helmet comes equipped with sensors to measure several parametres such as acceleration, lean angle, and velocity to identify impact or collision. As soon as impact occurs, the helmet inflates and forms a cushion around the cranium. It has been reported that this cushion is more effective in reducing impact under peak acceleration, which is normally transferred to the head.
The concept of an inflatable helmet is said to be inspired from inflatable space structures as they are widely used in several space applications. Moreover, they cost less.
Sarang Nagwanshi, one of the three inventors, told the Economic Times: “We got the idea of inflatable helmet while we were working on an inflatable space antenna at ISRO during our internship. As this helmet is being developed for the first time in India we got very limited help from any external source and our learning curve was steep. The results obtained are very encouraging and we are working towards converting this idea into a reality.”
Another of the three inventors, Rajvardhan Singh mentioned that the helmet is made of Kevlar, a synthetic fibre used in making bullet-proof jackets. Singh claimed that the inflatable helmet offers better protection than traditional helmets.
“The traditional helmets protect only against skull fractures and not against internal brain bleeding and damage caused by the rapid de-acceleration during an accident. Our impact assessment showed inflatable helmets can reduce the peak crash acceleration up to four times, meaning it absorbs the kinetic energy generated during the crash and then releases it slowly, lowering damage from impact,” Singh told the Hindustan Times.
When the three inventors conducted impact tests under standard testing conditions, results revealed that the helmets are capable of manifold reduction in peak acceleration after impact created by collision. It was also found that the force experienced by the dummy head was four times less.
The inflatable helmet will be of immense help to bikers, simply because it will help in reducing the force experienced by the head during impact. Moreover, since the helmet is made of kevlar, additional foam and coating inside the helmet might not be required. In addition to this, if designed appropriately, bikers might not be inconvenienced while wearing the inflatable helmet. In the same vein, the government previously looked at redesigning the helmet.
In 2017, the death toll of helmet-less riders increased to 195 percent in India. This necessitates the wearing of a helmet while riding, and the inflatable safety helmet might just be a more viable option for bikers and pillion riders.
Elton Gomes is a staff writer at Qrius.
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