More stories related to Chicago Auto Show CHICAGO – A little more than one week after disclosing plans to equip all of its vehicles with electronic stability control, General Motors Corp. makes another major safety-related announcement.

This time it is the introduction of the industry's first passenger-side frontal airbag that customizes restraint by deploying in two different sizes and at different pressures.

GM's dual-depth airbag technology will debut on the ’06 Buick Lucerne and ’06 Cadillac DTS, which are unveiled here at the Chicago Auto Show.

Including the dual-depth bag, six airbags are standard on each vehicle.

The dual-depth airbag measures seat position, seatbelt usage and crash severity prior to deployment. A conventional dual-stage airbag inflates to a single shape with different pressures.

GM’s dual-depth airbag technology will debut in two ’06 models.

“We cannot control where our customers will sit in our vehicles or every crash scenario they could encounter,” says Robert C. Lange, GM executive director-Structure and Safety Integration. “The dual-depth airbag helps us tailor front passenger restraint based on the location of the passenger seat and the force of the crash.

“In addition, people should always wear safety belts, because they help to keep them in the proper position if the airbag does inflate. And children under 12 should always be properly restrained in a rear seat.”

The dual-depth airbag deploys from the front passenger side within the instrument panel. When the small airbag is required, a tether holds it to the smaller size and gas is vented from the module housing.

For the larger airbag deployment, the tether is released, the module-housing vent is shut off and the airbag is allowed to expand to its full size.

“Early indicators show that the dual-depth passenger frontal airbag may help us achieve improved scores in frontal crash tests,” Lange says.

Advanced sensor technology is an integral part of GM's dual-depth airbag system. The vehicle's Sensing Diagnostic Module takes only milliseconds to determine the shape of the airbag to deploy.

In addition to the industry debut of the dual-depth airbag, both the Lucerne and DTS models will feature GM's front-passenger occupant-detection system, which disables the airbag if a child or smaller person is sensed sitting in the passenger seat.

bcorbett@primediabusiness.com