Hyundai develops a so-called center side airbag that deploys in the space between the driver and passenger seats.
The airbag is installed inside the driver's seat and is designed to prevent front-row passengers from colliding with each other. If no one is in the front passenger seat, the airbag will protect the driver from a side collision coming from the car's right side.
Hyundai expects the system, to be used in upcoming vehicles, to reduce injuries caused by passengers colliding with each other by 80%.
The automaker says the airbag is 17.6 oz. (500 g) lighter than competing products. It also is smaller, giving design teams more flexibility in seat designs for future products.
Research engineer Hyock In Kwon of Hyundai's crash safety system engineering design team says the Euro NCAP auto-safety group is expected to include side impacts in its testing beginning next year.
"The development of (the) center side airbag goes beyond adding an additional airbag," he says in a statement. "We will continue striving to further improve passenger safety by being ready for all kinds of accidents."