Los Angeles - Children's car seats are historically bulky, hard to move and tedious to mount - but that may be about to change.
Volvo has designed a lightweight, inflatable rearward-facing child seat concept that is says is safe, easy to pack and carry and will enable parents to use it in many situations not practical with the seats on the market today.\
Designer Lawrence Abele, head of the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Centre in Los Angeles, had his two children in mind while designing the concept seat.
“For me child safety is always the number one priority,” he said. “When we lived abroad with two toddlers we had to haul bulky child seats through airports and then into taxis.
“Travelling with young children is a challenge; anything to simplify their parents' life is great.”
The concept presents new opportunities; when grandparents or friends take care of your children, or when travelling by taxi, rental car or bus, you no longer have to rely on the safety measures available.
INFLATES IN 40 SECONDS
The seat has a quiet, efficient pump that inflates it in less than 40 seconds and can also be used to deflate the seat for storage. The seat and its pump weigh less than five kilograms - half the weight of a conventional seat - and it's constantly online via Bluetooth, making possible a wide range of features, including remote controlled inflation.
And when deflated it fits into a weekend bag along with other necessities for your child.
Project manager Maria Hansson explained: “We used a special material called drop-stitch fabric to make the prototype seat, which is very strong when inflated to a high internal pressure.
“It was originally developed by the military in an effort to develop inflatable aeroplanes, but it's now quite widely used in the boating industry.”
The inflatable child seat concept faces the rear of the car, because that's the safest way for children to travel. A child's neck is not as strong as an adult's and, in a frontal impact collision, the head of a forward-facing car occupant is thrown violently forward.
That's why children therefore need to face the rear of the vehicle until at least 3-4 years of age.
Abele said: “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.
“Young children, however, can and should travel facing the rear of the car as long as possible,” he added.