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Volvo Car Group has been handed the Global NCAP Innovation Award thanks to its pioneering work in pedestrian safety.
This is largely down to the manufacturer's work in Pedestrian Airbag Technology with the new Volvo V40. The safety feature works through seven sensors at the front of the car that are triggered when coming into contact with a pedestrian. They then transmit signals to a control unit, which then deploys an airbag from under the bonnet to minimise injury.
A 10cm gap is created between the bonnet through the inflation so when the individual comes into contact with it, a great deal of the energy is absorbed, reducing the impact on the individual's head and chest.
"The purpose of the world's first airbag for pedestrians is to help protect these vulnerable road users in certain situations when they impact the bonnet and the area around the windscreen, where there may be a risk of serious head injuries," said professor Lotta Jakobsson, senior technical specialist safety at Volvo Cars Safety Centre, who was presented with the award at the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Conference in Seoul, South Korea.
"The airbag has a dual function. It raises the bonnet to create distance. Then it helps to cushion the impact by covering the hard parts around the windscreen."
Pedestrian injuries in road traffic accidents are a big problem, with 14 per cent of all fatalities being those on foot. The vast majority of serious head injuries are caused by the hard structure under the bonnet, the edge of the windscreen and the A-pillars.
Ahead of the Pedestrian Airbag Technology, in 2010 Volvo introduced the Pedestrian Detection system. This features a full automatic brake to avoid collisions with those on foot at speeds up to 35km/h (21mph) and reducing the car's speed before impact to limit injury when going any faster.
Thanks to its innovations in safety, the all-new Volvo V40 secured a five-star Euro NCAP rating and won the Euro NCAP Best in Class in the Small Family class, as well as securing the best ever result recorded by the organisation.