While auto makers decide whether to use active or static head restraints to comply with a new U.S. safety standard, a German supplier offers an alternative.

The Brose Group is shopping its 4-way adaptive head restraint, which uses two sensors to locate the center of the occupant's head with the push of a button. Within seconds, the system uses electric motors to move the restraint up or down and forward or back to its optimum position in the event of a rear-end collision.

Brose says its system is unique, far removed from head restraints now in production — or soon to be — as OEMs prepare for FMVSS 202a.

In meeting the code, active restraints are being designed to spring forward in the event of a rear-end collision.

The less-expensive choice are static restraints, which are larger and positioned nearer the head. Consumers are complaining static restraints are too close to the head for comfort.

Brose's adaptive restraint allows for the device to move, but only when the occupant enters the vehicle and not during a collision. In terms of size, it is no larger than conventional restraints.

The key premise behind the Brose restraint is to position it properly, based on the occupant's size and seating position. Research by insurance companies has found out-of-position head restraints are a primary factor in injury accidents.

An occupant's hair or hat will not affect the function of the sensors in the restraint. Herwig says Brose's adaptive device would be priced about the same as an active head restraint.

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