Swedish automaker Volvo has introduced the world's first external airbag for pedestrians. Volvo, long known for it's excellent safety standards for drivers, has been developing ways to ensure the safety of those outside of a vehicle as well. The company unveiled its external airbag concept at the Geneva Motor Show this week.
The airbag is deployed when proximity sensors detect an impending collision with a pedestrian. The airbag sits under the hood, and when activated, it inflates to a U-shape at the bottom of the windshield. The hood is likewise raised a bit. The U-shape allows the driver to still see forward, but works to protect anyone getting nailed from serious head and neck injuries.
Volvo states that 12% of car accident deaths in the U.S. surround collisions with pedestrians, and claims that if other car companies were to follow suit with its new safety feature, the number of road fatalities would drop. The Volvo V40 hatchback will be the first car to incorporate the airbag design, and will include the pedestrian detection system, which will prevent the bag from deploying at random. The V40 will also stop on its own when a pedestrian is detected, if the driver fails to apply the brakes first.
The car maker states that its Vision 2020 program pledges that “nobody shall be seriously injured or killed in a new Volvo.”
It seems to me like the U-shaped design might not really work too well on taller pedestrians. Still, the feature is indicative of the coming advances in auto safety technology.