Swedish car company Volvo has produced the first external airbag, a safety feature designed to protect pedestrians. The Volvo V40 will be the world's first mass produced car to incorporate the external airbag.
The Volvo V40 went into production in May and incorporates an external airbag which gives extra protection to cyclists and pedestrians in the event of a collision. According to Road CC the airbag inflates in less than a second and is "deployed when sensors in the front bumper detect contact between the car and a pedestrian or cyclist."
A senior technical advisor at Volvo, Thomas Broberg, said "We’re using airbag technology to have a cushioning effect on the outside of the vehicle to try and protect pedestrians." No doubt it will also protect the bodywork of the car if it collides with a cyclist.
Der Spiegel reported rival car company Volkswagen issued a statement warning of a possible danger the airbag could create, saying "it's impossible to rule out the possibility that accidental deployment would obscure the driver's view of the road."
However Volvo have designed the airbag so that it "expands into a banana-like shape that covers the windshield frame, but leaves much of the windshield itself unobstructed, since the windshield is a comparatively soft surface and thus not the most dangerous area to crash into."
Additionally the airbag can only be activated whilst the car is travelling at speeds of between 12 and 31 miles per hour, and won't inflate if someone decides to gave the stationary car a good kicking.