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Volvo V40 pedestrian airbag ready to deploy

Volvo has successfully launched the world’s first pedestrian airbag. The new technology should play a big part in helping the company realise its ambition that nobody should be killed or injured in a new Volvo by 2020.

Nobody will be killed or injured by a Volvo by 2020, the company hopes.
Nobody will be killed or injured by a Volvo by 2020, the company hopes.

The Pedestrian Airbag, which was unveiled at the 2012 Geneva Motor Show, will be available as standard on all new Volvo V40 cars.

The system consists of seven bonnet-mounted sensors, an air sack below the bonnet, a hybrid gas canister and a control unit that serves as the brains of the operation. When the sensors detect impact, the control unit works out whether it’s a human leg (rather than, say, another vehicle) and activates the gas canister, which inflates the sack.

The Pedestrian Airbag is effective because it provides an extra layer of cushioning between a person’s delicate organs and the hard engine components below the bonnet. It also reduces the likelihood of a person’s head making contact with the lower edge of the windscreen and the A-pillars, which are the cause of most serious head injuries.

The system only operated at speeds of between 20 and 50kmh and deploys within a few hundredths of a second. Volvo hopes it will help reduce the number of pedestrians dying as a result of car accidents, currently 14 per cent in Europe and 25 per cent in China.

Unfortunately, the system is only available on the V40, though Volvo admits it could be deployed in other cars in the future — although initially, it’s only likely to be fitted to vehicles that are typically used in city centres.

Do you think pedestrian airbags are a good idea or do they add unnecessary expense to the V40? Should jaywalkers just watch where the hell they’re going? Let us know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.

Sensors on the car detect when the V40 has crashed into a person's leg, before a control unit deploys the air bag.
Sensors on the car detect when the V40 has crashed into a person’s leg, before a control unit deploys the air bag.

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