Knowing that a conventional children's car seat is bulky and tedious to mount inside a vehicle, Volvo Cars is currently developing a lightweight and inflatable rearward-facing child seat that is "safe and easy to pack and carry, and will enable parents to use it in many situations not practical with the seats on the market today."
According to Volvo, the seat has a silent and innovative pump system that can inflate and deflate the seat in less than 40 seconds. The complete package also weighs less than 5kg, or half the weight of a conventional children's car seat, "and it is constantly connected via Bluetooth enabling a wide range of features, including remote-controlled inflation."
Volvo's inflatable child seat concept faces the back of the car, supposedly since this is the safest way for children to travel. In a frontal collision, the head of a forward-facing occupant is thrown forward, inducing great strain on the neck. Since a child's neck is not yet fully developed, special restraints are needed. So as an added precaution, children in car seats should face the rear of the vehicle until they are at least three to four years of age.
"Actually, it would be better for all of us to travel facing the rear, but given how cars are designed nowadays it's not feasible," said Volvo monitoring and concept center design manager Lawrence Abele. "Young children, however, can and should travel facing the rear of the car as long as possible. The goal was to design a seat as safe as, or safer than, anything on the market right now. But second to that, I want everyone, including kids, to be exposed to great design every day."
The Swedish carmaker did not say if and when its inflatable child seat will go into production.