Scientists working at Continental, funded by the EU's Advanced Protection Systems project (or APROSYS) have developed a computerized system that can detect when a crash is unavoidable and brace the car for the impact. The system involves a side beam that moves into place at the last second before an impact, strengthening the passenger cell.

Using a combination of cameras, radar, and software the system calculates relative position and speed to determine if collision is imminent. If it decides an impact is certain, it will deploy a metal bar down the center of the side doors, bracing the normally weak structures internally. The added protection could seriously reduce the chances of injury or death for vehicle occupants in side-impact crashes.

Time elapsed from crash detection to deployment of the internal brace is a mere 70 milliseconds. Testing has shown the brace reduces deformation on impact by as much as 80mm (3.15in). Reducing intrusion into the cabin is essential in side-impact crashes, because there is less material to absorb the impact than at either end of the car.

Like airbags, the system needs to be professionally removed and replaced after an accident.