If you're walking across the street and get hit by a car, you better hope it was a Volvo V40. Not only does the vehicle have a new feature as part of its "Intellisafe Volvos" that can sense a pedestrian in the first place to try and avoid collisions, but it also has the world's first pedestrian airbag.
The pedestrian detection technology, according to a Volvo press release, can help avoid collisions altogether when the car is driving at 35 km/h (21.7 mph) or slower. Here's how it works:
Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake is a technology that can detect if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver does not respond in time, the car can warn and automatically activate the brakes. No other car in this class features a similar technology.
Pedestrian Detection with full auto brake consists of a radar unit integrated into the car's grille, a camera fitted in front of the interior rear-view mirror, and a central control unit. The radar's task is to detect a pedestrian or vehicle in front of the car and to determine the distance to it. The camera determines what type of object it is.
If the driver does not react to the warning and a collision is imminent, full braking power is automatically applied.
If a collision with a walker is unavoidable, Volvo's pedestrian airbag comes in handy. When the sensors on the front of the vehicle resister contact, the airbag inflates over the hood of the car in order to help reduce severity of injury.
Watch this ITN News report with animation of how the airbag works:
The Swedish car manufacturer also released new technology to help prevent vehicle-on-vehicle accidents. One of them is "city safe" technology, which like the pedestrian detection system alerts the driver to a vehicle that may be breaking ahead. In the event that the vehicle before you would break suddenly and you couldn't react in time, the automatic breaking system would kick in.
"The safety systems are intelligent and work together to make driving more pleasant and safe," Thomas Broberg, senior safety advisor for Volvo, said in a statement. "They are designed to warn about threats. If necessary, they can also step in and intervene in critical situations. And, in some situations where the collision is unavoidable, there are safety features to help mitigate the consequences. However, this does not mean that these sophisticated systems take over the driving. Their main task is to assist the driver, thereby making the driving experience more comfortable and less complicated."