Published on June 15, 2012
Volvo's new pedestrian airbag technology turns the hood into a deformable buffer zone and protects pedestrians from hitting the rigid A-pillars in case of a collision. (Photo: Volvo)
Published on June 15, 2012
The new pedestrian airbag is part of Volvo's ongoing dedication to vehicle safety. (Photo: Volvo)
Over the years, the types of airbags available for vehicles have increased from conventional driver and front passenger
airbags to include knee airbags, side curtain airbags, side torso airbags, seatbelt airbags and more. This trend seems to imply that more airbags will improve protection for vehicle occupants. Surely then, an airbag system for those outside of the vehicle would prove useful as well. Volvo Car Corporation apparently agrees with this notion and has introduced its pedestrian airbag technology, which helps to ensure the protection of those outside the vehicle.
"We are proud to be able to offer a car with an airbag for pedestrians," said Thomas Broberg, senior technical advisor for safety at Volvo Car Corporation. "The purpose of the airbag is to help protect pedestrians in certain situations when they impact the bonnet (hood) and the area around the windscreen wiper recess and A-pillar, where there may be a risk of serious head injuries."
Volvo's pedestrian airbag technology debuted on the all-new Volvo V40 earlier this year in Geneva, Switzerland. Although the V40 isn't available in Canada it's likely that its innovative pedestrian airbag will be offered here in addition to the other types of airbags currently available in vehicles today.
The system in the V40 makes use of seven sensors embedded in the front of the car which transmit signals to a control unit. If the control unit receives signals indicating that the V40 has made contact with a human leg, the vehicle's pedestrian airbag is deployed.
Pyrotechnical release mechanisms in the vehicle's hood hinges pull out a pin when the system is activated and release the rear section of the hood panel. While this is happening, the airbag fills with gas in a matter of milliseconds. In its fully inflated position, the pedestrian airbag covers the width of the windscreen wiper recess, approximately one-third of the windscreen itself and also the lower portion of the vehicle's A-pillars. As the airbag inflates, it raises the hood ten centimetres. The entire system process from activation to full inflation of the airbag and deployment of the hood panel takes just a few hundredths of a second according to Volvo.
In this way, Volvo's pedestrian airbag technology creates a gap between the relatively easily deformable hood and the unyielding engine components below. This gap acts as a buffer and allows the hood to deform upon pedestrian impact, creating a dampening effect to somewhat cushion the impact for the pedestrian. The airbag itself protects the pedestrian from directly striking the car's windshield and rigid A-pillars.
Volvo's pedestrian airbag is active at speeds between 20 and 50 km/h. The Swedish automaker says 75 percent of all accidents involving pedestrians take place at up to 40 km/h. With this innovative airbag system, Volvo and other automakers that adopt such technology could help save the lives of those outside the vehicle in addition to those within.
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