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06 June 2012

Volvo's Pedestrian Airbag gives new meaning to “hit and run” (w/ video)

Words by Christopher Kho
 
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By now, we should all be familiar with Volvo's Pedestrian Detection system. At speeds up to 35 km/h, this kit automatically applies the brakes to avoid hitting a pedestrian ahead. We know it works because our Associate Editor Jade Lu had the unfortunate job of being a crash test dummy while filming Kotse.com's S60 “Trackster” video. Let’s just say, after three takes, she's still in one piece. But now, Volvo's got a new toy that gives a new meaning to “hit and run” with their Pedestrian Airbag Technology that comes standard in the all-new V40.
 
Besides the typical bruises, scratches, and maybe some broken bones, the most serious trauma a pedestrian could ever sustain in a car crash is a head injury caused by the hard structure under the hood, windscreen, and a-pillars. This is where Volvo's Pedestrian Airbag Technology comes into full use. 
 
Seven sensors embedded in the all-new V40's front bumper send out signals when it registers a collision with what it interprets as a human leg. This triggers a bonnet hinge release mechanism to pop the hood up, giving it space to deform, thus creating a dampening effect when it’s hit by a pedestrian. Then, an airbag inflates to raise the hood even further and covers part of the windscreen and a-pillar to cushion the blow to the torso, arm, or - more importantly - the head. The entire sequence takes just a few hundredths of a second to fully deploy, which could be the difference between life and death. 
 
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Statistics show that 75% of all accidents involving pedestrians happen at speeds up to 40 km/h. So to give that poor soul a better chance or survival, this new system is active at speeds between 20 and 50 km/h. And while Volvo's Pedestrian Detection system is designed to stop the vehicle when it sees someone on the road, we can't always guarantee that it will stop on time. 
 
As the first manufacturer to ever fit a pedestrian airbag on a production model, Volvo hopes that it’s as safe to be in a Volvo as it is to be hit by one. And when it does, the Pedestrian Airbag Technology should not only save your life, but also let you run away from the scene after you've been hit.