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Bavarian Innovation Prize 2008 for structure-borne sound airbag

Jun 2, 2008

Prize for research collaboration shared between Continental, the international automotive supplier, and the Institute for Applied Research (IAF) at Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences.

Frankfurt am Main / Munich. This year, the Bavarian Innovation Prize is awarded for the development of a so-called structure-borne sound airbag.

Today, in the State Chancellery, Prime Minister of Bavaria Dr. Günther Beckstein presented the prize worth 50,000 to Prof. Thomas Brandmeier (Ingolstadt UAS) and Dipl. Ing. Michael Feser (Continental). For several years, a dedicated team, led by Brandmeier and Feser, has been developing a new accident detection airbag system called Crash Impact Sound Sensing (CISS).

With its small but highly effective sensor, the Continental airbag system can do more than just feel the impact, as was the case before; the engineers have now made it able to hear as well.

CISS can detect both the accident and its severity from the characteristic structure-borne sound caused by an impact and can distinguish even more quickly and more reliably between different crash situations. Consequently, even in serious accidents, the restraint systems can be triggered more quickly, providing vehicle occupants with the maximum reliable protection while being subjected to the least physical stress.

"It hears danger coming", explained Prof. Brandmeier. "Just like in the Westerns where the Red Indian puts his ear against the railway line and hears the train coming, we can hear how dangerous the crash is".

In the event of a serious accident, the airbag safety system must decide what needs to happen within fractions of a second; in the case of a frontal crash, it has between 10 and 40 milliseconds to decide. Is the impact so severe that the airbags really have to be triggered? Or are the airbags not needed at all; and will the other passive safety elements, such as the crumple zone and seat belt, suffice? These decisions are taken by sensors which measure the vehicle's rate of deceleration. The data obtained is analyzed in the central airbag control unit (ACU). The aim must be to make the sensors so responsive that the severity of vehicle deformation is registered as a further, important accident parameter. And it is precisely this which is possible with CISS.

The structure-borne sound caused by the deformation of the vehicle's front end is transmitted via the longitudinal members - the body shell's "railway lines" - to the central control unit. So the new system can both "feel" and "hear" the danger coming.

A complex signal evaluation system, which uses specially developed algorithms to analyze and assess the accident, takes the ultimate decision as to whether the airbags should be initiated and with what force. And one more plus point: the CISS technology can be integrated within the airbag control unit - a cost benefit together with significantly improved performance. In contrast to current systems installed in many vehicles, there is no need for additional sensors on the vehicle exterior, on the front end for example.

"A particular technical challenge", according to Feser, "was integrating the whole system into a single high-performance sensor". In many cases, this could reduce vehicle system costs. This Bavarian technology represents a decisive competitive advantage for Germany as a vehicle manufacturing country.

The CISS project was born of a simple idea which began, initially quite modestly, as a preliminary study by a team consisting of Continental employees and PhD students from the IAF at Ingolstadt University of Applied Sciences. In 2005, first AUDI AG and later Volkswagen AG supported the study. In November 2007, the team presented its project at the Science Show, organized by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) in Berlin, which sponsors the project. Series production development of CISS will be completed in 2008.

The Bavarian Innovation Prize forms part of the "Bavarian Offensive for the Future" and 2008 sees it being awarded for the seventh time. The award recognizes outstanding innovative and practical inventions and developments which inject new impetus into the Bavarian economy. According to Prime Minister Dr. Günther Beckstein, the Bavarian Innovation Prize is symbolic recognition of the wide range of innovative and creative achievements which Bavaria needs for a healthy future.

Worth 50,000, the Bavarian Innovation Prize is the highest value award of its type in Germany after the Federal President's innovation prize.

Press Release (MS-Word, 60 KB)

Press Image to the issue accelerator pedal in the Continental Media Center. Another image you can find here. 


Nicole Geissler

External Communications


Division Chassis & Safety

Guerickestraße 7

60488 Frankfurt am Main

Phone: 0 69 7603-8492

Fax: 0 69 7603-3945


Sibille Rosinski

Press Service
Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaften FH Ingolstadt

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85049 Ingolstadt

Phone: 0841 9348-219

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