Volvo has released new details on its innovative pedestrian airbag system, set to feature in the upcoming V40 hatch revealed earlier this year.
The world-first application of the technology is intended to go one step beyond the now-widespread use of pedestrian-focused materials in frontal structures, by cushioning a vehicle’s immovable hard points.
For the V40, these points include the A-pillars, windscreen, and wiper recess, while the system improves the cushioning effect of the bonnet structure by raising it 10mm in an impact.
These areas are the main causes of head injuries in pedestrian impacts, which in turn directly correlates with the likelihood of fatality.
Volvo cites statistics that show that 25 percent of Chinese road fatalities are pedestrians, with Europe and the US experiencing 14 and 12 percent respectively.
(Australian government statistics show that pedestrians made up 11.3 percent of Australian road deaths in 2010.)
In Volvo's new pedestrian airbag system, seven sensors at the front of the vehicle are able to identify a human leg, and if a collision is deemed imminent, the airbag is deployed and the bonnet lifted via the use of pyrotechnic rams.
Volvo boasts that object detection to full inflation of the airbag takes mere hundredths of a second.
The system is intended to supplement Volvo’s existing Pedestrian Detection feature, which can apply full-braking force automatically to avoid collision with pedestrians at speeds up to 35km/h.
If a collision cannot be avoided, the Pedestrian Airbag system will be activated at vehicle speeds up to 50km/h.
Volvo Australia is yet to confirm a local launch date for the V40, but the model is expected by late 2012 or early 2013.
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