Honda Engineer Eric Heitkamp Receives Highest Award From U.S. Department of Transportation for Honda & Acura’s New Airbag Design

April 4th, 2023 by

Honda safety engineer, Eric Heitkamp lead the creation of the groundbreaking front passenger airbag design. In doing so, Eric receieved the highest award from U.S. Department of Transportation for new airbag design. He accepted the award  in Yokohama, Japan at the 2023 Enhanced Safety of Vehicles conference. This is the 2nd consecutive excellence award won by U.S.-based Honda engineer.

Heitkamp attended Landmark study of brain injuries presented by scientists at the U.S. Department of Transportation while researching during the creation. The purpose of the design of this airbag was to decrease the chance of serious brain injury, and better manage lateral collision forces. The uninflated panel first catches then decelerates the occupants head with less force and directs it inward between the inflated chambers to protect the head. The airbag has four major components. Three inflated compartments consisting of a center chamber, two outward-projecting side chambers that create a wide base across the dash, and the uninflated “sail panel” that stretches between the two side chambers.

The groundbreaking front passenger airbag will be standard equipment in both the Honda Pilot and Acura MDX and TLX.


The new airbag technology debuted in the 2021 Acura TLX.

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