Ford's new wheel airbag patent mock-up.

Ford's Curious Patent for a Wheel Airbag

A wheel airbag is the last thing we thought Ford would be trying to patent. Well, it actually makes sense in this case.

With recalls in the news and autopilot systems failing and self-driving cars failing to see pedestrians or other vehicles on the road, auto safety is in the spotlight as the most important issue for drivers. Discovered by Autoguide in a recent United States Patent and Trademark Office search, a new patent from Ford describes a system that uses a front wheel-mounted device that inflates upon impact, preventing the wheel airbag from blasting upwards in the cabin or footwell, absorbing its energy or deflecting it away from the vehicle.

The Ford patent applies to body-on-frame vehicles, which use a separate body on its chassis to hold the engine and drivetrain. This body style is popular with pickup trucks and SUVs.

Ford's new wheel airbag patent mock-up.

Ford's new wheel airbag patent mock-up.

Dashing for Safety

Other outside-the-box filed by Ford in the past include its Aug. 2017 patent for removable pedals and steering wheels using dashboard notches and locking points, which would allow a "steering wheel for development purposes, and enables the easy provision of a steering wheel as a customer-requested option." To compensate for the lack of steering wheel, a second frontal airbag would be integrated into the dashboard.

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A second patent, titled "Vehicle With An Integrated Electric Motorcycle" also describes a car with a detachable motorcycle stored between two front passenger seats to maneuver in urban environments with some reach needed to a final destination.

NEXT: Ford Rolls Out the Most Advanced Suite of Safety Features