March 7 - Swedish car-maker Volvo has turned its attention to pedestrians by installing the first airbags for those outside the car. The new technology was first unveiled at last year's Geneva Motor Show but has been integrated into the Volvo V40 model, now on sale in a number of countries. Jim Drury has more.
UPSOT: AIRBAG INFLATING It's the world's first car airbag to protect pedestrians. In Volvo's new V40 model it's contained beneath the bonnet. Sensors located at the front of the car can tell instantly if the vehicle has hit a pedestrian, and instruct the bag to deploy. It works at speeds of between 20 and 50 kilometres per hour, according to Volvo safety systems strategist Jan Ivarsson. SOUNDBITE (English) VOLVO CARS SAFETY SYSTEMS STRATEGIST JAN IVARSSON, SAYING: "It inflates really rapidly and lifts up the bonnet at the same time. You have a release in the hinges on its way up and as well as a catcher of the bonnet. So that leaves a new deformation zone of about 100 millimeters in the bonnet and then we protect from energy absorption in the A-pillar area and the wind screen wiper area. And it all triggers with seven contact sensors in the front of the car." The airbags work in concert with the car's braking system. Its pedestrian detection technology can sense an imminent collision with a pedestrian and brake automatically if the driver hasn't already done so. SOUNDBITE (English) VOLVO CARS SAFETY SYSTEMS STRATEGIST JAN IVARSSON, SAYING: "We have been working with this passive and active type of safety developments for quite a long time now. And now we thought it was time for a shift towards the pedestrians in the traffic as well." According to Volvo, pedestrians account for 14 per cent of all traffic fatalities in Europe and 26 percent in China. The car is on sale in Europe and Asia. Volvo hopes its decades-old reputation for safer driving innovation will give it an edge in the ultra competitive auto market.