Volvo V40 (Photo : REUTERS)
The Volvo Car Corporation has developed a new type of airbag - one that protects pedestrians who are struck.
The V40's pedestrian airbag system, the first of its kind, includes seven sensors that when activated deploy airbags across the windshield to prevent a struck pedestrian from suffering hear trauma. The most severe head inuries pedestrians suffer when struck are caused by the bonnet panel, the windshield's lower edge and the A-pillars, Volvo stated in a press release.
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"We are proud to be able to offer a car with an airbag for pedestrians. The purpose of the airbag is to help protect pedestrians in certain situations when they impact the bonnet and the area around the windscreen wiper recess and A-pillar, where there may be a risk of serious head injuries," said Thomas Broberg, senior technical advisor safety of the Volvo Car Corporation.
To distinguish a person from, say, a telephone pole, there are seven sensors embedded in the front of the car, which transmit signals to a control unit. After collision, the control unit evaluates the signals, and if the control unit registers something it determines to be a human leg, the airbag deploys.
As the airbag fills with gas, the bonnet raises ten centimeters to create a "dampening effect" when it is hit by the pedestrian.
"The airbag has two functions. Firstly, it raises the bonnet to create distance, and secondly it cushions the impact around the hard parts of the area near the windscreen," Broberg said.
The entire process from activation to airbag deploy takes a few hundredths of a second.
The company tested the system with crash dummies at speeds of 20 to 50 kmph, because most car-on-pedestrian accidents occur at speeds below 40 kmph.