The technology piloted for the Dainese D-Air air bag system was used for the first time ever during the Grand Prix race in Valencia when it was inadvertently tested by by Marco Simoncelli in 250 cc class.
The D-Air air bag system, which was designed by Dainese (the racing version is called the D-Air Racing System), was also worn by motorcycle racers Simone Grotzky and Michi Ranseder in the 125 cc class competition.
A tested and reliable motorcycle air bag system is a welcome addition to the safety accessories that are available to motorcycle riders, and it probably won't be long before this type of system is available in many different motorcycle apparel items and even on motorcycles (See the wBW report on the Honda airbag system for motorcycles).
The Dainese D-Air Racing System is a revolutionary air bag for the protection of competitive motorcycle racers.
After 10 years of study and testing by D-Tec, the Dainese Technology Center, the company’s
research and development department presented the innovative new D-air Racing system during a
Grand Prix race time in entirely operative mode.
This provides new rider protection technology in the world of racing with a system capable of
protecting areas of the rider’s body that traditional protections always failed to reach before: the
shoulders, the collarbone, and the neck, thanks to the unprecedented use of an airbag.
The tests conducted in the D-Tec laboratories document shock absorption values decidedly
superior to those offered by traditional composite protections that work in synergy with the D-air
system to create a complete head-to-toe protection system. The most revolutionary aspect of the D-air Racing system lies in the fact that the entire system is housed inside a special new appendage mounted on the rider’s shoulders and back instead of the classic aerodynamic hump.
The D-air Racing system works without requiring any type of connection to the motorcycle and
intervenes whenever the rider makes any of the following types of falls: front low-side, back low-side,
and, of course, the dreaded high-side.
The system does not use wires attached to the motorcycle, but is managed by a sophisticated system of accelerometers and gyroscopes housed inside the rider's aerodynamic hump on the leathers. The signals are managed by a data interpretation algorithm that triggers inflation.
The trigger signal goes directly to a gas generator that inflates the airbag in 40 milliseconds. You can see from the photos below that the air bag was inflated as Simoncelli hit the ground. The system is also designed to be replaced in seconds, and Simoncelli was able to continue practice without problems.
Dainese has been developing this project since 1996. Perfecting the decision-making hardware and software alone required three years of hard work, which was also distinguished by the compilation of an impressive quantity of data on racing motorcycle dynamics during both normal riding and falls. Their interpretation of these data permitted the modification of the trigger signal algorithm, the D-air Racing system’s real ”brain”.
For the development of the D-air Racing system, Dainese formed a special “Task Force” composed of the best experts in the fields of motor vehicle dynamics and airbag system creation together with constructors particularly aware of the importance of safety.
D-Tec also relied on the close collaboration of 2D and the Department of Mechanical Engineering
of the University of Padova, while also availing of consultation provided from FIAT Quality Control,
TRW, and KTM Racing Team.
The complete absence of fixed connections to the bike, the trigger system, the rapid intervention
times, and the areas of the body protected all contribute to making a big difference compared to
similar protection systems and signal a “technological leap forward” in providing people with
dynamic sports protection.
The D-air Racing system has been developed exclusively for on-track use by professional racers
or expert amateurs. D-Tec continues in the development of its D-air Strada Project for the protection of motorcycle riders in intense road traffic.
If recent sports history has taught us anything, it's that even the world's best athletes aren't safe from accidents. This past June, Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who earlier in the year at the ripe old age of 23 became the youngest starting quarterback to guide his team to a Super Bowl victory, was badly injured in a motorcycle accident. The 6-foot-5-inch signal caller, who had been riding motorcycles for years, wasn't wearing a helmet.
Roethlisberger's accident was one of many motorcycle mishaps involving professional athletes. Cleveland Browns tight end Kellen Winslow lost an entire season to a motorcycle accident, while former Chicago Bulls guard Jay Williams might have lost his entire career to one. (Note: At press time, Williams was attempting a comeback.)
What these accidents should illustrate to motorcycle riders across the globe is the necessity for safety each and every time you get on your bike. Though often associated with a rebellious, carefree lifestyle, motorcycle riding can and often has proven fatal to those who don't follow the necessary precautions.
Drive defensively. Motorcycle drivers need to drive defensively, perhaps more so than auto drivers. Many motorists don't feel comfortable sharing the highway with motorcycle riders. Nerves often set in and drivers of cars or trucks tend to drive more offensively than they normally would, hoping to pass motorcyclists as quickly as possible. This makes things extra difficult for bikers, who don't have nearly as much protection from an accident as someone driving a two-ton pickup truck. Always pay attention to what the drivers around you are doing and always keep your eyes on the road. Expect the drivers around you to be wary and uncomfortable and drive accordingly.
A good rule of thumb is to imagine you're invisible to other motorists. When driving down the highway, position yourself to be seen by your fellow motorists and never sneak up on them. That is why many other bikers have loud pipes on their bikes -- to make sure they're heard if not seen. Do your best to stay out of blind spots as well.
Know the road conditions. While a pothole won't do much damage to a car, it can be very dangerous when driving a motorcycle. Even puddles can be danger pits for bikers. Some bikers also ride off center in a lane to avoid the slippery zone caused by leaking fluid, etc. from cars who frequent major roads.
When driving on wet roads, realize that even the painted lines and directionals on the roads are substantially more dangerous when wet than when they're dry, so always slow down when crossing such spots. Also exercise significant caution, such as slowing down a lot more than you normally might, when coming up on obstacles on wet roads.
Wear protective gear. Part of what scared football fans so much when word leaked about Roethlisberger's accident was the knowledge he wasn't wearing a helmet at the time he collided with another vehicle. This can be dangerous and many who later commented on the Roethlisberger incident admitted he was lucky to escape the accident, which required hours of surgery on his face, without major head injuries. While helmet laws vary from state to state, riding without a helmet is a foolish and unnecessary risk, one that new riders especially should never take.
In addition to a helmet, wear the right clothing as well. Proper gloves (non-slip durable gloves), pants (protective leathers), jackets (again, leather and always long sleeved) and shoes (leather boots) could be your sole line of defense if you get in an accident. Any motorcycle shop will be able to recommend, if not sell, you the proper attire. Remember, safety comes before looks, so get the safest clothing possible. If you'll be driving at night, bright uppers are recommended, as you'll be far more visible to other motorists.
Buy the right bike. Motorcycles aren't like cars, where one size essentially fits all. You should be able to reach the ground with both feet when sitting on your motorcycle. In addition, you should be able to reach the controls easily. If you're planning on having passengers, make sure you have a passenger seat and accompanying footrests for your passenger.
First-time buyers are often overwhelmed by how much power a bike has as well. While everyone envisions hitting the road and tearing off at high speeds, it's important to note that the more powerful a bike is, the heavier it is. This is essential knowledge because you'll need a bike you can push or lift in the event of an accident.
Also consider the use of the bike. Dirt bikes, for instance, should never be taken on the highway and street bikes should not be used to go off-roading.
Don't rush into things. This is an area that causes lots of accidents. The Bulls' Williams, for instance, admitted after his accident he barely knew how to drive his motorcycle at the time of his crash. Similar to a teenager going to driving school, prospective bikers should take lessons -- many states mandate courses prior to licensing. Driving a car and riding a motorcycle are two different things. Just because you can drive a car does not qualify you to ride a bike. Read your bike's manual thoroughly and take it slow at first. Do not let passengers ride with you until you feel entirely comfortable driving alone. Driving with passengers can be extremely difficult, so learn to walk before you can run.
- Courtesy Metro Creative Services
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