Saab was the first company to include Active Headrest Technology in their vehicles starting in 1997. Saab called this new system the SAHR for Saab Active Headrest Restraint. The first version of Active Headrests were simply mechanical in nature designed to move when the body was pushed backward into the seat from a rear end collision releasing the headrest pillow forward reducing the distance the head would move reducing the possibility of a whiplash injury.
In 1999, Volvo introduced their first version of Active Headrest Technology calling it the WHIPS system for Whiplash Protection System. Their first version was also mechanical in nature like Saab’s. However, Volvo’s design was a deformable metal plate designed to cushion and absorb the impact energy.
BMW introduced their first Active Headrest system in 2003 in their E60 comfort seat package. BMW introduced a more advanced design by using sensors inside the vehicle and during the event of a read end collision the system triggered a pressurized explosion inside the headrest pillow pushing part of the headrest forward toward the occupant’s head.
Toyota introduced their first Active Headrest system in 2012 calling it the WIL (Whiplash Injury Lessoning) system. Their system used a heavily cushioned seatback designed to deform to the body upon impact which then tilts the headrest pillow forward.
Advances in Active Headrest Technology
Over the years, auto companies have developed and introduced newer versions of Active Headrest Technology systems into their vehicles. These new systems incorporate the many sensors within vehicles to offer more accurate and timely information about the accident in addition to the pre-accident position of the occupant to make rapid adjustments to the seat headrest pillow that better fit the current situation and occupant’s movement during the accident.