GM's new front center airbag explodes out of the side of your seat like a chestburster out of Alien. But it's a friendly chestburster that's designed to keep you from cracking your noggin open like a hard boiled egg the next time someone t-bones your ride.
Front airbags have done wonders for the most common type of collision, which is running into something head first. But 11 percent of car accident fatalities are caused by "far-side impact crashes," which is where your car gets hit on the opposite side from where you're sitting, sending you into the passenger seat if you're behind the wheel.
GM is introducing a new type of airbag in some of its midsize SUVs for 2013 that's designed to keep you safe in accidents like these by deploying out from the front seats into the center of the car. It's a tubular design (in form factor, not awesomeness, although it's also pretty awesome) that pops out of the side of your seat before you can say "I hate bugs." The cushion provides restraint to keep your head from ending up in the passenger seat while the rest of your body stays securely belted into the driver's seat. It's taken GM three years of research to get it to work, and it should also make a difference in rollovers — which don't happen so often, yet carry a high mortality rate.
So now we've got front airbags, side torso airbags, knee airbags, rear curtain airbags, center airbags, and even seat belt airbags. The logical progression here is to simply fill the entire passenger compartment of the car with airbags (or maybe one GIANT airbag), completely immobilizing all passengers and allowing you to drive headlong into brick walls and off cliffs without even breaking a nail.