First seen earlier this year, the system uses seven sensors in the front of the car to transmit signals to a control unit that evaluates if contact has been made with a human leg before deploying the pedestrian airbag.
At the same time as the airbag is activated, pyrotechnical release mechanisms fitted to the bonnet hinges release the rear of the bonnet allowing the airbag to raise the bonnet by 10 centimetres and stay in the raised position. This provides a gap between the bonnet and hard components in the engine compartment allowing space for deformation of the bonnet creating a dampening effect for a pedestrian.
Once inflated – the complete sequence takes a few hundredths of a second – the airbag covers the entire windscreen wiper recess, about one third of the windscreen, and the lower part of the A-pillars.
Volvo has made the system active only between 20-50km/h, on the basis that 75 per cent of all accidents involving pedestrians take place at up to 40km/h, and works alongside its Pedestrian Detection system with automatic braking.
The Volvo V40 range is expected to start arriving in Australia in late 2012/early 2013 at below $40,000.