Here is a little-known fact about Tesla airbags: no one hopes to be in the car when they deploy but a kid riding shotgun is safer during an airbag deployment in a Tesla than in other cars, if the effort Elon Musk described as going into their design means anything.
During a wide-ranging sit down with Joe Rogan earlier this week, the outspoken CEO described the length Tesla design engineers go in setting up what other car makers may be routinely doing. It also shows how deeply involved the billionaire podcast guest is in the design of his company products.
Musk was making a point on how Tesla doesn’t need a prodding from regulators before improving on the safety of their cars. Then he used airbags as an example.
So what did he think about airbags generally?
“Blind airbags are so good you…blow your mind just how good the airbags are”
But of course, that is not good enough for Tesla.
“And in tesla…we even update the software to improve how the airbags deploy”
Tesla not only got software to control the deployment but in true Tesla fashion, continue to update it after the car has been delivered to the owner.
So what is involved when a high impact lets the airbag out? This is where it gets interesting.
Musk explains “So we’ll calculate, you know, are you an adult?”
How is that little fact of your adulthood determined?
“Like how much do you weigh?”
If that is not amazing enough, Tesla is also tracking your sitting posture “Yeah, so the seat, not just the weight, but the pressure distribute distribution on the seat. So we’re measuring the pressure distribution. Are you sitting on the edge of your seat?”
Fun fact: your car has an idea of how much you weigh!
“Are you sitting in this part of the seat or that part is seat? Are you maybe a baby? Are you a toddler?”
After all these are ascertained, the airbag is now ready to deploy.
“The airbag firing will be different depending upon where you’re sitting on the seat and what size you are and what your orientation is really”
That’s a whole lot of tech in there. And Musk is promising the system is going to get better as the smart engineers are still hard at work on it “Yeah. And we’ll update it, uh, over the air. So it even gets better over time.”
Then came Musk’s safety assurance for child riders, even when they are not complying with safety instructions “So a child could conceivably sit in the front seat. Unbelted child sitting in a, in a bad position, probably still fine”
We hope that last line is not one that will come to haunt him down the line, following his widely publicized run-ins with industry regulators. The authorities actually want everybody belted down and frown at kids riding shotgun but Musk is just being Musk.
Regardless of the legal implications of Musk’s statements, our admiration of Tesla vehicles just went up a notch.
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