Striving to make new technologies more widely available, Ford has moved to offer some of its intellectual property to others – for a price, of course.
The latest move in this direction is the deal to license its newly developed inflatable seat belt (essentially an airbag attached to it), which was first patented back in 2008 and introduced on a commercial model in the 2011 Ford Explorer. So far, only Ford models have been equipped with the technology, like the 2013 Ford Flex, Lincoln MKT, MKZ, or the 2014 Ford Fusion, with new models like the 2015 F-150 pickup and others to follow.
The US automaker is now on its third generation of the system and has moved to offer the original to others, like suppliers, rival automakers – with Chris Danowski, director of technology commercialization for Ford Global Technologies saying it could be successfully used in buses, military vehicles, airplanes, helicopters or even boats.
“We are constantly looking at how to improve,” Danowski said. “Our goal is not to withhold it, especially if it is related to safety.”
Ford decided to let AutoHarvest, a nonprofit group that specializes in offering widespread access to new technologies, post the technical worksheets for the technology on its website – widely used by many companies in the transportation industry, including NASA.