Motorcyclists who fall off their bikes at high speeds might have much smoother landings in the near future. CNN Business reports that "airbag jeans" are becoming closer to reality. The company Airbag Inside Sweden AB has designed a prototype for the special pants, which look fairly ordinary on the outside but are lined on the inside with airbags that inflate if a rider falls off the bike. (You can get a sense of it in this video.) While similar technology exists to protect the upper body of motorcyclists, nobody has yet figured out how to make it work on the lower body. In this iteration, the jeans are tethered to the bike, and the airbags inflate if the rider is abruptly jettisoned.
The Swedish company hopes to have them on the market next year, assuming they pass European safety tests, and the French company CX also is working on a similar concept. (You can see that video here.) There's no word on when such products might hit the American market, but Elizabeth Blackstock at Jalopnik thinks the idea is long overdue. "If the jeans are approved, we could witness a fairly exciting revolution in motorcycle safety," she writes. In a post at RideApart, Janaki Jitchotvisut is intrigued but is holding out to see more details about how the airbags engage and how easy they are to wear. "Figuring out how to maneuver around human physiology to make any kind of airbag pants easy to get on and off is essential if you want riders to want to wear them." (Read more motorcycles stories.)