Volvo Introduces First-Ever Pedestrian Airbag

The safety-conscious automaker hopes to save pedestrian lives with revolutionary auto external airbag design (IMAGE: VOLVO / March 8, 2012)

GENEVA, SWITZERLAND - Perennially safety-conscious automaker Volvo is now betting it can save pedestrian lives, with the world's first external airbag.

The new system is one of the many high-tech safety features being introduced on the Swedish maker's new V40 wagon, which is making its world debut at this week's Geneva Motor Show.

The revolutionary new airbag design uses sensors to rapidly detect a car-pedestrian impact, and to respond much like what happens in a car-to-car collision.

The sensors instantly trigger the section of the hood closest to the windshield to pop up slightly. Then a U-shaped airbag emerges from underneath, and forms a cushion around the base and sides of the windshield and A-pillars.

Volvo has been working for several years to develop a pedestrian airbag, which it sees as the most effective way to meet Europe's strict pedestrian impact legislation.

Continental regulators have been pressing automakers to find ways to reduce the results of car-pedestrian collisions, which routinely result in about a quarter or more of motor vehicle fatalities.