did you Know that there was a day in which the manufacturers worked on bumper fillers water? The idea may seem a little absurd, and even zany. The image that we have of a car colliding with another is not precisely observe how to project a jet of water at pressure to the bumper to create a puddle on the asphalt. But what is really interesting is that at the end of the sixties, you were working on this technology, apparently ridiculous, with a purpose so interesting as to reduce the costs on the repairs of small impacts at low speed. what worked? Why not prosper?
A Chicago-based company was studying the possibilities of using water cameras in the bumper to absorb impact energy and reduce damage in the rest of the body.
The company’s Energy Absorption Systems, based in Illinois (united States), is proposed to attenuate significantly the costs of these repairs by developing a system in charge of to absorb impacts more effectively. That was the emergence of a system of cushions, or bags filled with water, installed in the bumpers of the cars. Remember that in those years still used bumper, often metal, for which the cost of repair was high and less effective to absorb impacts to prevent further damage in the body. It is enough to remember how easy it was to damage the chassis in the cars of yesteryear, with impacts that today would have resulted in a few minor repairs.
The alleged fragility of a modern car is nothing more than a myth, fueled by the construction of car bodies each time more light and are designed to deform progressively (which can also save our life) and making the parts more expensive or difficult to repair damage in a crash (and only damaging impacts really strong). If the reasons carefully and you had to choose between that an impact causes a dent considerable and very shocking in a fin, or the displacement of a few millimeters of your chassis, I’m sure you would choose the first option.
In a pilot test performed in New York city taxis and San Francisco demonstrated that it could reduce costs and repair times by 50%.
According to a report in April 1970 (in Automotive Fleet) these bumpers were particularly effective to protect the body at speeds up to 18 mph (29 km/h), the speeds at which they normally suffer from urban accidents.
As you may have already imagined, the water injected to pressure in bags had a role perfect absorbing impact, by the compression and dilatation of the pouch, reducing the peaks of the acceleration and the deceleration of the impact in a 60% at speeds up to 60 mph (96 km/h). So that was also excellent to save the life of the occupants.
The story, and the video that you see above, we knew thanks to Jalopnik these days. As also knew that the pilot project started in 100 vehicles of the taxi fleet of New York city and San Francisco showed a reduction in repair costs of 56%, and at the time of repair by 50%.
An idea that today might seem to us ridiculous, and that more than four decades ago was really interesting.
The bumper fillers water not prospered, in part due to the adoption of systems of defenses are most effective in the protection against impacts, based on plastic and rubber bands. For those who have doubts about how the cold could affect these bumper of water, the brand designed a aqueous solution with a freezing point really low, that does not freeze in winter.
Obviously, today this solution, it looks ridiculous, in a moment in which the solutions of controlled deformation in order to resist the energy of an impact are based on advanced structures with smart designs, and not in old, dusty bags of water. And especially ridiculous if we think in another of the maxims of the industry, to save weight, and above all masses in suspension and in places as strategic as the outside of the axles. In their day also had to face the fact that affect the aesthetics of the own bumper, those glitzy chrome-plated bumpers of the time.
The idea of the Citroën C4 Cactus and the Airbump is not very different, bridging the gap of use of another fluid, the air, instead of water. In any case, it is a curious history, don’t you think?