New Volvo V40 is the first car to feature pedestrian airbags


March 7, 2012

The Volvo V40's pedestrian airbags are designed to mitigate a collision with a pedestrian

The Volvo V40's pedestrian airbags are designed to mitigate a collision with a pedestrian

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Debuting at the Geneva Motor Show, the all-new Volvo V40 possesses some high-tech features, including the world's first pedestrian airbag system. The five-door, five-seater sibling to the Volvo C30 features (as standard) front bumper sensors that register the physical contact between the car and a pedestrian. When impact occurs, a section of the bonnet (closest to the windscreen) is released and elevated by the deployment of the airbag. The inflated airbag covers the area under the raised bonnet, around one-third of the windscreen as well as the lower section of the A-pillar. The system is designed to help to reduce the severity of pedestrian injuries.

Furthermore, the system is coupled with Pedestrian Detection technology that can detect if a pedestrian steps out into the road in front of the car. If the driver is unable to respond in time, the car automatically activates the brakes.

The Volvo V40 also features updated City Safety technology, Lane Keeping Aid with haptic auto steering, automatic Road Sign Information, Active High Beam technology and Park Assist Pilot Cross Traffic Alert.

The interior of the V40 features a fixed panorama glass roof that stretches from the front windscreen to the backrest of the rear seats, interior lighting designed to give a "theater lighting" feel, and a frameless interior rear-view mirror inspired by modern smartphone designs.

The chassis has been designed to offer "a responsive, agile and connected driving experience." The rigid body and low center of gravity reportedly promote an alert, quick-responding character that focuses on the driving experience, yet without compromising the comfort of the ride. The rear monotube dampers feature compression and return damping via the same valve. This gives shorter, faster fluid flow, which in turn means that the damper responds more quickly. In the Sport chassis setting, the car is lowered 10 mm (0.4 in) compared with the Dynamic chassis. Springs and shock absorbers have a firmer setting, resulting in a responsive drive with full control.

The V40 also comes available with a new, fully graphic instrument cluster. This active Thin Film Transistor (TFT) crystal display allows the driver to choose between three graphic themes: Elegance, Eco or Performance.

Source: Volvo

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Bridget Borgobello Bridget is an experienced freelance writer, presenter and performer with a keen eye for innovative design and a passion for green technology. Australian born, Bridget currently resides in Rome and when not scribbling for Gizmag, she spends her time developing new web series content and independent cinema. All articles by Bridget Borgobello

I'm not willing to pay a dime for this feature. I've never hit a pedestrian, and would refuse to pay extra for any car that features this.

Steve Pender

Steve Pender, agree would not want it, it is as stupid as their collision avoidance system that COULD leave you sitting on Rail Road tracks with a train coming. If this system ever malfunctioned who would be liable? the driver or the manufacturer? Lawyers must be salivating

Bill Bennett

Steve and Bill, I respect your opinions but, obviously, your set of values is totally different to many drivers'. I've analyzed thousands of accidents (by the way, most people involved never had one before and none of them expected to have it) and my feeling when reading this article was 'I want this car'. I follow new safety developments from the automotive industry and it's impressive VOVO's big step forward with primary safety systems. 'Chapeau' for VOLVO engineers.

Big Mig

I can see where they're going with this and, knowing Volvo, they will have tested it thoroughly....but it seems to me that any pedestrian/victim is now going to get flipped over the roof and straight into the path of the unsuspecting vehicle behind, probably getting sliced by the high gain blade aerial mounted at the back end of the roof. Not convinced, Volvo. Sorry.

Mike Hallett

How come there is no illustration or artist's rendition of the Volvo V40 actually running into a pedestrian?

A little animation would be nice. It could show the difference between getting run into (and thrown in the air) or being run over by a Volvo V40.

Albert Sudonim

Volvo used to be THE safety leader and is finally comming back into this. Great innovation, expect to see it become universal.

Max Kennedy

I think that the design is limited. If they already have Pedestrian Detection technology which can activate the brake system, why not modify that system t calculate unavoidable impact and deploy an air bag to the front from the bumper before collision occurs. An airbag on the windshield seems to show that there is more concern in protecting the windshield than the pedestrian that is hit. A front bumper air bag would seem to make more sense and, if designed sufficiently strong, could actually protect the vehicle from unavoiable impacts of all types. The main line of development here should be:

Accurate detection of unavoidable impact Deployment of protective airbag before collision takes place Adrian Akau

I read a paper on why we have 40kph zones. At 40 your head slaps against the bonnet and you live, above that and it cracks open on the windscreen. Its the angle of impact.


How about just making pedestrians who are too stupid to look both ways before crossing the street, or not paying attention as they text and walk, take accountablity for their own saftey. Darwin was right and we need poplutaion control in what ever form it may come. Enough with car saftey as one minor fender benders now total a car and these devices that jack up the price of cars.

Next we will be required to wear motorcylce helmets in our cars and padded saftey body suits.


Having witnesses three pedestrians struck by young male drivers, using their cars, when each pedestrian died about a week after the collision, in awful pain of massive internal injuries, I can say that this airbag concept is only the first stage to what is required.

Te best solution? The German suburban street speed limit of 30 km/hr is probably the most effective. At that speed it is possible for even the most dense driver to slow to a speed that will only cause minor injuries, hopefully. But gosh, it's hard to drive that slowly in a manual. Try it. They do it!

Secondly, a lot of the injury comes from the sickening fall of the hit person as they roll off the windscreen or bonnet to the ground below. In all three incidents that I witnessed, they landed on their heads.

What could effect more protection would be for a long low-mounted bag to open to form a soft landing, although you could put money on the person being hit so hard that they are thrown beyond such a landing pad. But then they are probably doomed anyway.

Basically, any time you hear a person, of any age, decrying pedestrians for ‘getting in the way’, or being ‘stupid old fools’, et al, they should be reported, and grounded for psychological assessment before, maybe, being allowed to drive again.

p.s. One of the young men, the one who killed the most incredibly cautious lady, took his own life a year later, wracked with his grief and regret at his stupidity on the day.

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