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The center airbag helps to prevent front-seat occupants from smashing into each other during side crashes.

ZF TRW’s new center airbag is one of those products you see and instantly think, “Yeah, that makes sense.”

It keeps the driver and front-seat occupant from smashing into each other when the car is hit from the side, helping to reduce trauma to the heads, shoulders and torso areas of the people up front.

Dirk Schultz, global engineering director for ZF TRW inflatable restraints systems, said in a press release that the risk to the front-seat passenger is "significant" when the car is hit from the side.

"Accident research shows that in the USA, nearly 30 percent of side impact fatalities involve far-side [passenger-side] events, and in Germany, nearly 30 percent of severely injured occupants in side crashes resulted from a far side collisions," he said.

The center airbags are not yet in production cars but Schultz said there is rising interest in the technology. The airbags also may get a boost from European car testing agency EuroNCAP, which is assessing new side impact test protocols for 2018 and beyond.