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Saving pedestrian lives

  • Designers face a challenge
  • Safety dictates style

  • Volvo design boss talks

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Saving pedestrian lives
Then there's pedestrian protection, probably one of the biggest challenges the design community has faced over the last few years. The low, sporty bonnet, for example, has had to be raised to allow almost 10cm of fresh air between it and the nearest hard part underneath. A pedestrian's head must be able to hit the bonnet, deform it, and still remain intact and healthy.

The problem arises if you can't justify the expense of an 'active' bonnet that jumps up in a collision, because you risk the front of your car looking like a whale!

It also amazes me - with all the rules dictating where the headlamps must be sited, the height and length of the bumpers, how wide the A-pillars can be at a certain distance from the driver's eye, where the front windscreen header must be relative to the trajectory of an 'unbelted' occupant, and so on - that we can still achieve strong differentiation between brands.

It's all the more impressive on the smallest cars, where you'd think that following the European rule book would result in everyone producing just one single recognisable modern car.

I'm often asked how cars will be 10 years from now, and no doubt they will be safer, more comfortable and higher-tech. That said, our hopes for the future have always been huge. Think back to 1999 and what we expected of cars now weren't we supposed to be flying in them these days?

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