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Volvo creates exterior airbag to help protect pedestrians

About a decade ago, the European Union made some radical changes to their pedestrian safety laws. Car manufacturers in the region took notice; and as a result some major breakthroughs were made. Some vehicles in Europe are now equipped with pedestrian sensing systems to reduce the chances of an accident occurring.

When you consider data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows an increase in pedestrian accidents despite a decrease in total traffic fatalities, it is clear that something needs to be done to help pedestrians stay safe on the roads.

Volvo is trying to take the European recommendations a step further; and we can only hope that some of their ideas make it stateside.

The Swedish automaker will include a pedestrian detection system similar to the ones used by other vehicles in Europe. The system employs sensors on the outside of the vehicle to detect pedestrians. If the system sees that an accident is imminent and the driver does that hit the brakes in time, the system will automatically apply the brakes.

If the brakes are not enough, however, and an accident will occur, the system deploys a secondary tactic to help the pedestrian. The Volvo will pop its hood up just a little bit and inflate an exterior airbag around the windshield. The goal is to prevent or reduce head trauma should a pedestrian be thrown onto the hood.

The vehicle is not expected to be made available in the U.S., but hopefully this inventive system could be developed and used on some vehicles here soon.

Source: POPSCI, “Volvo’s New Exterior Airbags Protect Pedestrians,” Shaunacy Ferro, Feb. 20, 2013

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