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Volvo invents inflatable child seat

New Volvo rear-facing child seat shrinks to the size of a backpack and weighs 5kg

16 Apr 2014

AUTOMOTIVE safety pioneer Volvo has revealed a remarkable rear-facing concept child seat that can deflate to the size of a backpack.

The reveal of the pre-production seat concept comes as Volvo completes 50 years of advanced child safety innovation. In 1964, the company revealed the PV544 rear-facing child seat prototype, which was the first of its kind.

Since then, the company has pioneered in-car booster cushions (1976), rearward-facing seats for ISOFIX (1999) and the integrated two-stage booster cushion (2007). The newest invention is a light, travel-friendly rear-facing child seat that inflates in seconds.

Fitted with a small pump, the seat expands to full size in 40 seconds, in silence. At the press of a button, it returns to a flat state that enables it to be stashed in a regular sized backpack (45cmx55cmx20cm) which is, crucially, small enough for carry-on aircraft luggage.

It is also constantly online via Bluetooth, meaning the inflation can be controlled remotely – though precisely why you would need that function is unclear.

The seat is made from a unique material called drop-stitch fabric, Volvo says, which makes it strong and capable of dealing with high air pressure.

Drop-stitch fabric is used heavily in the boating industry, though it was developed by the military in an effort to make – wait for it – an inflatable airplane.

As a result, it weighs only 5kg, which is about half what a regular child seat way, though Volvo says it is perfectly safe. Volvo says rear-facing child seats such as this should be used for all children under the age of 3-4, at least.

The Swedish car-maker also says the seat presents a solution to problems such as how to seat your children in taxis, or rental cars, or even buses. It could also be a nifty object to lend the babysitter.

The remarkable seat project was led by design manager of Volvo's LA Monitoring and Concept Centre Lawrence Abele, who said he used his own experiences lugging traditional child seats around the globe as source material.

“When we lived abroad with two toddlers we had to haul bulky child seats through airports and then into taxis,” he said. “For many, travelling with young children is a challenge any assistance to simplify the parents’ life with young children is a great thing.” “The goal was to design a seat as safe, or safer, than anything on the market right now but second to that I want everyone, including kids to be exposed to great design every day.”

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