Volvo’s Pedestrian Airbag Technology

I heard someone calling brand Volvo as “Old man’s car” because of the company’s eternal attention to passenger comfort, luxury and safety. Essentially, Volvo has made ‘automobile safety’ (with more reference to pedestrian safety) as its own territory in a vast crowded market. The company came up with Pedestrian Detection system in 2010 and now an industry-first airbag to cushion pedestrians from windshield and A-pillar!

In its latest premium hatchback segment offering, the V40, Volvo has employed this latest technology in pedestrian safety and is the first OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) to bring the technology to market. The airbag is activated using seven sensors in the front bumper. When a pedestrian hits the sensors, the severity of the impact is measured and, if necessary, the airbag inflates over the windshield and A-pillar.

Paul Mertens, senior vice president of research and development at Volvo, explains that in developing the new system, Volvo sought to build on its existing knowledge concerning pedestrian safety. The company already had the pyrotechnic technology to lift the hood away from the engine beneath when a person hits the vehicle, as well as extensive airbag development experience, but the challenge for the team was to bring the two together in the new system.


Volvo claims to have conducted over 130 tests on the pedestrian airbag using over 70 V40 prototypes

This was then tested more than 150 times in the lab, with different impactors and pedestrian dummies sent toward the front bumper, hood, window, and A-pillar area. There were around 1,000 computer simulations of it, too. The work formed part of the V40’s wider crash-test program, under which 70 prototypes were used for 130 different full- scale tests, in addition to approximately 25,000 crash test simulation runs. The is a breakthrough in the automobile safety technologies, and makes the V40 a unique amid its contenders. Volvo has reiterated the fact that car safety technology is not only for the occupants, and even the innocent pedestrians can benefit by it!

Next, would you like to read more on Volvo, or Safety Technologies?

Dhiyanesh Ravichandran

Editorial consultant (Automotive and Technology), academic, and blogger based in India. He can be reached at

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