Originally Posted by Bikemobile
I wonder what changes with the seatbelt buckled vs not? More airbag pressure to compensate for unrestrained numbskulls in the seat or less airbag pressure to lessen injuries to unrestrained numbskulls. Maybe it disables the airbag altogether if the belt isnt buckled to thin the herd.
IANAABE -- I am not an Air Bag Engineer.
I do not know how air bags work in detail, specifically "smart" air bags. Generically, air bags work by setting of a sort of "explosive" to create the gas to fill the bag. I imagine a "smart" air bag has several charges, perhaps of different sizes and thus can fire "a lot" (i.e. all the charges), "a little" (some of the charges), or it can stage the charges, fire one to start initial inflation, based on timings (such as initial speed or declaration rate) it can fire the charges in sequence, "firming" up the bag as you fall in to it.
So, with an un-restrained person, it's better for them to hit a softer bag initially just to catch them and then firm it up once they're settled, rather than inflating it to FULL initially, because unrestrained people have an issue of "bouncing off" the fully inflated airbag.
The net result may be less effective, but it's more effective than being bounced of completely and lawn darting in to the center console or a door pillar.
Again, I'm making all this up. I could be completely wrong, but sounds good to me.