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Volvo's Pedestrian Airbag System (Video)

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On: Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 5:26PM | By: Chris Weiss

Volvo's Pedestrian Airbag System (Video)

The Volvo V40 may have leaked prior to the Geneva Motor Show, but Volvo managed to save the biggest story for the show. Because, though Volvo has managed to make its cars more visually appealing over the years, the story about any given Volvo tends to be safety, not visuals.

The V40 features a world-first pedestrian airbag system, putting the airbags on the outside of the car, as well as the inside. The system provides cushioning should the driver run into a pedestrian.

This system seems a little over-engineered to me. Not that pedestrian safety isn't important, but I'd think that not hitting pedestrians would be more the goal than cushioning their impact. But I'm not the one building the V40; Volvo is. And they're all about the frontal airbag.

Volvo's Pedestrian Airbag Technology uses sensors built into the front bumper to detect contact between the car and pedestrian. Upon impact, a long, boomerang-shaped airbag unit pops out from under the hood and inflates against the windshield. The airbag runs the length of the windshield and is higher on the sides, presumably because the curvature of the V40's hood is likely to deflect a victim to one side or the other.

It's unclear if Volvo's sensor system was fine-tuned to distinguish between a person and another object - say a shopping cart - to prevent false activation.

The pedestrian airbags are among a suite of advanced safety technologies in the V40. The car includes a more traditional pedestrian detection system with auto brake, designed to prevent the need for ever using the airbag technology. A Road Sign Information system uses a front-mounted camera to display speed limit and no overtaking signs on the V40's internal display, providing a cue to slow down or modify your driving as needed. Other safety technologies include a blind spot information system, collision warning system and driver alert feature for fatigued drivers.

Instead of one long press release, Volvo broke the V40 down by a series of press releases about different elements. It's actually pretty refreshing for us auto bloggers that want information about a specific aspect. If you're interested in the rest of the details on the new five-door, take a look at Volvo's media site. All the V40 releases were published on March 6.


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