Car seats are synonymous with safety, inflatable chairs – not so much.
But Swedish car manufacturer and car safety evangelist Volvo hopes to change all that as it develops its first ever inflatable car seat.
It’s not an inflatable seat as you know it, as it’s made from drop stitch fabric – the same material used for airplane wings, floating docks and high-pressure rescue river boats – so the chances it will ‘pop’ are slim.
The Group 0+/1 car seat is a brand new concept and is still a few years away from being sold on the market. But it’s a good indication of where the child car seat market may be heading in the coming years.
There is an inflatable booster seat, the Bubblebum, on the market currently, which is designed for children who are 4 years and older. However, it is aimed at short one-off journeys, where you unexpectedly need a car seat (for example, if you have an extra child in the car), or if a child needs a lift in a car without a car seat.
The Volvo inflatable car seat is aimed to be used from birth, and aims to be a long-term, permanent choice.
Volvo has an impressive mission to make sure no one is ever killed in a Volvo car after 2020, so this new seat will be a more convenient alternative to the ‘normal’ child restraint seats available.
It will weigh less than 5kg (built-in automatic pump included) – so it is easy to take from car to car, inflates and deflates in 40 seconds and will be suitable for children up to approximately four years of age.
It’s hi-tech too. Featuring some of Volvo’s technological advances, it will transmit information from the chair back to the parent and an alarm will sound if it’s not fitted correctly, if it’s not at the correct pressure or if it’s tampered with in any way.
And if that wasn’t enough security for you, it also fixes with ISOFIX connectors.
Perhaps it’s no surprise that Volvo should create such radical innovation in the car seat world: It was Volvo that developed the world’s first car seat prototype back in 1964 and then went on to develop the first rear-facing child chair, the first booster seat and the first integrated booster seat.
So who knows, in a few years’ time, we might all be sitting on blow-up chairs as the ultimate in safety.