Volvo leads airbag development
The first Volvo car equipped with an airbag left the assembly line in 1987 - and since then the company has extended the technology with several world-firsts. Volvo was first with both the seat-mounted side airbag and the Inflatable Curtain (IC) - and in 2012 the technology's 25th anniversary was celebrated with the introduction of the groundbreaking pedestrian airbag, in the all-new Volvo V40.
"It is the first time airbag technology has been used to help protect vulnerable road users, in this case pedestrians, outside the car," says Lennart Johansson, Senior Manager for Interior safety at Volvo Car Corporation.
Lennart Johansson, who was part of the pioneering work in the 1980s, adds, "The benefit of modern airbag technology is that it takes very little space and still helps provide a good level of protection that can be optimised for the occupant and the crash situation. However, when we see a need for enhanced protection we always search for a total safety solution. The airbag is one solution and it can be combined with other measures."
Another recent example is the new knee airbag in the all-new Volvo V40. It is designed to distribute the load on the driver's lower body in a frontal collision.
The airbag was quickly recognised by many observers as the best solution and some even believed that it even would replace the three-point safety belt that was invented by Volvo Car Corporation back in 1959.
However, Volvo successfully argued that the best safety result would be achieved by co-operation between the safety belt system and airbag technology.
"More airbags will not necessarily improve the overall safety level. It is important to regard the airbag as part of a systematic approach where the car's structure, the safety belts, the airbags and other details such as the steering column interact to ensure optimum absorption of the collision forces in an accident," comments Lennart Johansson.