Alpinestars anticipates that its consumer-grade suit—with two 2-quart bags, like those currently on pro tracks—will go on sale next year, with airbag-equipped jackets for everyday riders rolling out around 2013.
A 1.1 pound computer set between the rider's shoulder blades collects G-force, vibration and tilt data from seven sensors throughout the suit every two milliseconds. If four consecutive readings indicate that the rider is losing control - tilting too far into a turn, for instance - the computer triggers a nitrogen canister, which inflates the airbags in 0.05 seconds. The bags stay rigid for about five seconds before deflating, flattening back into the lining in 20 seconds. A second charge is then ready to deploy the system again should a persistent rider hop back on.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.