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Techies 2012 - Best Car Safety System: Volvo pedestrian airbag

Date: 21 August 2012

A genuine world first, Volvo's pedestrian airbag system strives to protect pedestrians caught in the path of the new V40, although it's expected the airbag will make its way across the range.

Activated between 12mph and 31mph, sensors embedded in the front of the V40 spot if the car comes into contact with something it interprets as a human leg, and then deploys the airbag. The bonnet hinges are fitted with pyrotechnic release mechanisms, which release the rear of the bonnet and at the same time fires the airbag that raises the bonnet by 10cm to protect the pedestrian from the engine's hard points.

The airbag itself then covers the windscreen wiper recess, the lower part of the A-pillars and the bottom third of the windscreen, with the entire process happening in what Volvo claims is "a few hundredths of a second".

Unlike some safety systems from other manufacturers, the revolutionary pedestrian airbag is fitted as standard to all V40s, and is the latest development in Volvo's stated target of nobody being killed or seriously injured in one of its cars by 2020.