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THE AIR BAG FOR MOTORCYCLISTS LABELLED DAINESE
A suit for motorcyclists with an integrated air bag in its back. It is stylish, comfortable and, above all, it can save the life of the rider wearing it during road accidents. This is the D-Air system patented by Dainese, the historical Italian brand that has been producing protective clothing for motorcyclists and high-speed sports enthusiasts since 1972. D-Air protects the area of the shoulders and collarbone during falls from motorcycles, thanks to a sophisticated system patented by the Dainese technicians. The inflation of the suit’s bag around the upper part of the spinal column significantly restrains extreme neck movements during falls.
The story of the D-Air began in 1995, when the Dainese technicians designed the first model of an air bag for motorcyclists, integrated into a helmet. The first working prototype arrived in 2000, made in collaboration with Israeli partners. It was the first step towards the D-Air project. The equipment costs were considered too high for large-scale production, but despite this, development was not interrupted. In fact, following the successes of 2000, Dainese began collaborating with specialised partners in search of further developments. Part of the working group was professor Vittore Cossalter, dean of the mechanical engineering faculty at the University of Padua, and a leading world expert in the dynamics of two-wheeled vehicles. But there were also technicians from the German company 2D, specialised in data gathering and collaboration, and from the Fiat safety centre, who put Dainese in contact with some of the most innovative companies producing air-bags for automobiles.
There were more than a few obstacles to overcome: first of all, the stringent legislative restrictions, especially in regard to the totally safe transportation of the gas required to inflate the airbag. Then there were technical difficulties, the most important of which concerned sliding. If the impact of an automobile with an obstacle (or another vehicle) is a fairly easy event to record, this is not the case for a sliding motorcyclist, which is something much more difficult to measure and has less foreseeable consequences.
Dainese has already patented, and is continuing to develop, two types of D-Air systems. The D-Air “stradale” (road), which activates mostly in impact situations, and also includes sensors mounted on the motorcycle, and the D-Air “competizione” (racing). The latter of these, which is designed for world championship motorcycle races, is contained entirely in the hump on the back of the suit, and is therefore easier to install, without requiring sensors fitted to the motorcycle. The D-Air “competizione” officially took to the track during the last MotoGp in Germany – where, for the first time, a rider in each class wore a suit fitted with the innovative air-bag – and it was also recently used by the eight-times world champion, Valentino Rossi. After various tests, the “Doctor” wore the suit equipped with the D-Air racing system during the 2009 MotoGp Great Britain, on the Donington circuit.