Volvo has always been at the forefront of safety technology, having developed a slew of features that other major car manufacturers have since copied (the three-point safety belt, safety glass, and the first frontal air bag, to name a few). Now it seems as if the company is thinking even further outside the box by testing the world’s first pedestrian airbag system on the 2013 Volvo V40.

The five-passenger hatchback vehicle made its debut at the Geneva Motor Show. Its front bumper contains sensors that can register contact between the car and a passerby such as a pedestrian or cyclist. According to Gizmag, when an impact is registered, the piece of the hood closest to the windshield releases and becomes elevated by an airbag deployment.

Here’s a video of the V40’s pedestrian airbag system in action:

The airbag will help protect pedestrians’ heads against the windshield and surrounding metal frame. Volvo is confident the system can save lives in 85% of accidents where a pedestrian would have otherwise been killed from being struck by a car.

Here’s how the technology works according to the Daily Mail:

“It works through a series of sensors fitted to the front bumper that detect how hard an object is in a crash. If the object is recorded as flexible, such as a human limb, and the car is travelling between 12mph and 31mph, under the speed limit for most urban roads, then an airbag bursts through the [hood] of the car and covers the windscreen. Thomas Broberg, Volvo’s senior safety adviser, said: ‘We believe this can substantially reduce the number of serious injuries sustained by pedestrians. It was necessary as part of our vision that by 2020 nobody should be killed or injured by a Volvo.’”

The V40 will also have an automatic braking system that can reduce low-speed impacts that can occur when the driver is distracted:

“The cars can also be fitted with a pedestrian detector system that [recognizes] when a person is ahead in the road or about to step out. It sounds an alarm to alert the driver and automatically puts on the brakes if a crash is unavoidable.”

Right now the technology can’t protect children shorter than 2 ft, 7 inches, but it’s still a huge step in the right direction. The airbag and automatic braking system combined could greatly reduce pedestrian fatalities and pave the way for other car manufacturers to follow suit in an effort to increase driver, passenger, and pedestrian safety.

Volvo’s pedestrian airbags: how can pedestrian detection be implemented?

The integration of pedestrian detection technology into pedestrian airbag systems can greatly enhance the safety features of vehicles and reduce the number of traffic fatalities, and these systems are now being used by companies like Volvo. This technology utilizes sensors such as cameras or radar to detect the presence of pedestrians near the vehicle and trigger the deployment of the airbag in the event of a collision. This provides a cushion to absorb the impact and reduce the risk of serious injury.

The implementation of pedestrian detection technology requires the integration of sensors into the vehicle’s electrical system, with the sensors positioned in various areas such as the front grille or side mirrors to provide coverage for the entire vehicle. The system can also be programmed to distinguish between different types of objects, such as pedestrians, bicycles, or other vehicles, to ensure accurate deployment of the airbag in the windscreen area.

Some automakers, like Volvo, are now equipping their vehicles with pedestrian airbag technology, incorporating pedestrian detection as a standard feature to improve road safety. The goal is to reduce the number of pedestrian-vehicle collisions and the resulting injuries, making our roads safer for everyone. The integration of pedestrian detection technology into pedestrian airbag systems is a major step forward in the evolution of vehicle safety features and a commitment by automakers to prioritize the safety of all road users.

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Andy Gillin received his Bachelor’s Degree from the University of California at Berkeley and his law degree from the University of Chicago. He is the managing partner of GJEL Accident Attorneys and has written and lectured in the field of plaintiffs’ personal injury law for numerous organizations. Since 1972 he has been helping seriously injured victims throughout northern California fight & win their personal injury cases. Andy is one of the top awarded & recognized wrongful death lawyers in northern California.