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Volvo's inflatable car seat breathes new life into child safety

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Child car seats are essential for infant and toddler safety, but that doesn't mean that parents are happy to use them. The seats are bulky and heavy, and they're a pain to position correctly. But what if you could inflate a child seat once it was in position and then deflate it and stuff it into a bag when you're finished? That could soon be a reality if Volvo's new concept rear-facing child restraint makes it into production. The Swedish carmaker's concept seat has a built-in pump that can inflate it in just 40 seconds, and deflated, the whole package is about 18 x 20 x 8 inches (45 x 50 x 20cm) — portable enough to fit into some luggage or a large bag. It weighs just over 11 pounds (5kg).

This isn't the first time that a manufacturer has experimented with inflatables for a car seat, but this appears to be the first rear-facing inflatable child seat. Some others on the market are booster seats, which are designed for older children and use the car's built-in seatbelts. Volvo's rear-facing seat concept has a five-point harness and it's designed for children up to three years old. To offer that kind of restraint, Volvo's using drop-stitch fabric, which is employed in applications such as inflatable boats. To boot, it's an attractive seat that looks like it'd be at home in a leather-clad Scandinavian vehicle. Unfortunately, Volvo isn't offering any more details about the concept, like whether it plans to bring it into production, but at least it shows that there is a better way.