Volvo is obsessed with safety – it always has been. However, in recent years the Swedish automaker decided it would make a serious move toward on-road safety by aiming to have zero injuries or fatalities involving a Volvo car by the year 2020. This requires dozens – if not hundreds – of safety innovations and world-firsts to achieve. And that’s exactly what Volvo is doing.
Recently Volvo unveiled a new V40 and on this new model is a rather unusual bit of safety technology: a pedestrian airbag. Perhaps it goes without saying, but this is a world-first.
Volvo figures a pedestrian airbag is essential in today’s urban environs. Of all traffic fatalities in China, 25 percent involve pedestrians. That number drops to 14 percent in Europe and 12 percent in the US, according to Volvo.
The pedestrian airbag stands as another layer of protection for pedestrians in addition to Volvo’s camera and radar-based detection system, which will stop the car without any driver input at low-speeds should it detect a pedestrian crossing into the vehicle’s path.
The system uses seven sensors embedded within the front of the car. Should the front of the vehicle collide with something that the sensors determine are human legs, the pyrotechnic hood hinges fire, pulling a pin that deploys the gas-filled airbag. As you can see from the photo above, the airbag covers the area of the vehicle that Volvo has deemed most likely to cause head injury to a pedestrian, like the lower windshield and lower A-pillars.
In addition to providing a soft surface for a pedestrians head to land, the airbag lifts the hood up enough to allow the hood itself to conform around the body of the pedestrian, further cushioning the blow.