Debuting at this week’s Geneva Motor Show, Volvo is introduced the new V40 wagon, which happens to come with external airbags. Volvo has always been known for safety features, so one wouldn’t be too surprised to learn that they’ll be the first car manufacturer to add airbags for people that aren’t even inside the car.
Attempting to make a car safe for pedestrians is something car manufacturers have been throwing ideas at for a while, from hoods that are more capable of crumpling if a pedestrian happens to land on it, to installing igniters which would actually raise the hood of the car upon a pedestrian impact in order to further soften the blow.
The external airbags function like you’d expect: Triggers detect an oncoming collision, and the area of the hood closest to the windshield sprouts an airbag in order to help cushion the blow. The external airbag isn’t the only new safety feature in the car, however, as it can automatically deploy the brakes if an oncoming collision is detected. However, the brakes are applied abruptly, so drivers still pay attention rather than be okay with getting distracted because, hey, the car will just hit the brakes for me. Yes, if the drivers know that the car will hit the brakes anyway, even if abruptly, that kind of defeats the purpose.
It seems we’re getting ever closer to Demolition Man cars that explode with foam upon collision.