Airbags protect drivers – but why not protect pedestrians too?

When we think of a car’s internal airbag, the first assumption is it protects the driver and front passenger.

This has been the safety feature in cars for decades, and will continue being so.

But here’s a “What if…” question:

“What if airbags can protect pedestrians?”

By pedestrians here, I mean exactly that: the people who throng the sidewalks, pavements and occasionally cross the roads. I can already sense the answer among the more enlightened beings to the question above: “Sure, why not?”

That’s exactly what Volvo has done. In a brilliant step in its relentless drive for auto-safety, Volvo has turned the table and done some reversal thinking in airbag technology:  it has just announced what it says is a first – an external airbag on the front of the car designed to help protect pedestrians in the event of a collision.

As they stated in their website:
“Sensors in the front bumper register the physical contact between the car and the pedestrian. The rear end of the bonnet is released and at the same time elevated by the deploying airbag. The inflated airbag covers the area under the raised bonnet plus approximately one third of the windscreen area and the lower part of the A-pillar.”

The driving force behind this safety feature for their 2013 V40 model is captured by Thomas Broberg, the company’s senior safety advisor, “Volvo aims to ensure that nobody should die or suffer serious injuries in a new Volvo car by the year 2020.”

Visit Volvo’s website to check the external airbag in action.

I think this is simply an awesome idea in protecting pedestrians from further or serious injury upon a collision with a car.

Now why didn’t any other auto-maker think of that? Will they now follow suit?

(For another idea using Reversal Thinking, click here)