British engineers have developed a new car seat which they say will cocoon a baby in a protective shell in the event of an accident.

The rear-facing seat, called Carkoon, is also fireproof that can provide up to 20 minutes of air, insulating the child from a blaze.

And for easy release in an accident, the seat can also be swivelled round to face the door, so the child can be easily unbuckled and lifted out.

Developed by experts at Brighton-based Cool Technologies, the Carkoon could be on sale as early as next year, and would cost around £499, the Daily Mail reported.

Its main feature is an airbag that folds out on impact, enveloping the child in the seat. The youngster is protected from head to toe but has plenty of breathing space.

And, unlike traditional airbags that cushion passengers by deflating when hit, the Carkoon’s airbag stays inflated and rigid enough to withstand bombardment by any objects dislodged by the crash.

This is vital, as a stray water bottle or satnav can kill in a 30mph crash, according to its chief inventor Jullian Preston—Powers.

“We’ve even bounced a brick off it,” said Preston-Powers who came up with the idea after speaking to a Sussex fireman whose hands were badly burned when he tried to rescue a baby from a burning car, but failed to save the baby.

As well as the swivelling base and airbag, some Carkoon models will have a device that transmits a signal to the emergency services, letting them know there has been an accident with a baby involved.

A prototype seat underwent crash testing at the Transport Research Laboratory in Berkshire last month.

But, before it can reach the market, Cool Technologies will need to establish that the airbag does not pose any risk to the child or hinder its rescue from a car in an emergency.