It’s something every parent will experience, lugging a bulky, awkward child seat in and out of a vehicle.
What if you could simply inflate and deflate a child seat, taking much of the hassle out of the equation?
Enter Volvo, and it’s inflatable child seat. Though still in the development phase, the Swedish carmaker has released details, images and a video of its prototype.
Imagine that visit to Grandma, Grandpa, Aunty, Uncle, cousin, close friend – providing a well deserved time out for new parents – suddenly that little bit easier.
The seat has a silent inbuilt pump system that inflates the seat in less than 40 seconds.
What would that mean for you every day?
It weighs less than 5kg and when deflated its dimensions are 45 x 50 x 20 cm packed into a convenient carry-case.
The rear-facing child seat has been designed to accommodate children up to 4 years of age.
Volvo has been vocal in its support of rear-facing seats for children up to that age, despite the legal requirements in Australia allowing toddlers to be forward facing from 6-12 months old.
In fact, Volvo advocate that young children should travel facing the rear for as long as possible.
The reason for this is that the impact of a collision is spread over a wider area, the child’s back, rather than centred on the vulnerable neck area, as it would be in a forward facing collision.
Lawrence Abele, design manager at the Volvo Monitoring and Concept Centre, Los Angeles designed the seat with his own children in mind.
“For me child safety is always the number one priority and when we lived abroad with two toddlers we had to haul bulky child seats through airports and then into taxis,” he said.
One question that instantly springs to mind, is can an inflatable seat provide enough protection in the event of a collision?
Volvo is confident in their concept, crafted from a fabric originally developed by the military.
Project manager Maria Hansson described the material as unique, “We used a drop-stitch fabric when creating the prototype of the seat.”
Ms Hansson said its been used in the boating industry, “This fabric is very strong when inflated and can be brought to a very high internal pressure.
The inflatable child seat also integrates Bluetooth technology, enabling features like remote-controlled inflation accessible online.
If it moves into production phase and is approved under stringent safety checks overseas, will we see this in Australia?
We’re still waiting on the ACCC (Australian Competition and Consumer Commission) to mandate changes made to the Australian/New Zealand Standard for child restraints (AS/NZS 1754) in June 2013, when or even if we’ll see the Volvo inflatable child seat available in Australia, remains to be seen.