Pedestrian and cyclist deaths make up about a third of all traffic fatalities in the Netherlands.

The Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment gave carmaker TNO 1 million euros to develop this technology to keep those at-risk populations safe on the streets.

The exterior airbags cover the lower portion of the windshield.

A camera positioned beneath the rear-view mirror can determine if the car is approaching any pedestrians or cyclists, and if sensors in the car’s bumper detect contact, the airbag deploys.

2013-01-28

Co.Exist

These Airbags For Cyclists Might Save Your Life When A Car Slams Into You

There is no need for you to ride around with some bulky contraption. These airbags are part of the car, and deploy right before it crashes into you, so you have a softer landing on its windshield.

In the Netherlands, concern for biker safety has reached new heights: car company TNO has developed the world’s first exterior airbag, to cushion the road’s most vulnerable travelers—cyclists and pedestrians—in the event of a collision.

Year after year in the Netherlands, pedestrians and cyclists make up about a third of all traffic fatalities. The airbag project came about as a way to shrink that figure, at the behest of the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment, who gave TNO 1 million euros to develop the technology.

The exterior airbags cover the lower portion of the windshield, creating a softer landing for a human skull flying through the air at 25 miles per hour than, say, a pane of glass. A camera positioned beneath the rear-view mirror can determine if the car is approaching any pedestrians or cyclists, and if sensors in the car’s bumper detect contact—here comes the airbag.

After developing the new feature for two years, TNO showed them off this November in a crash test with a dummy cyclist. The results were not bad: A car traveling at 40 km per hour, the average speed at the time of accident, ended up causing fewer brain and bone injuries nearly half the time.

While TNO’s airbags are just beginning to make their way into car designs, Volvo beat the Dutch company to the chase. Last year, the Swedish carmaker released a V40 with the world’s first pedestrian airbag. Check out that car’s new technology here.

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11 Comments

  • Nick von Darkthrone

    The monies collected to MAINTAIN (important word) roads comes from many sources, not just drivers. Drivers do fund a SLIGHT majority of the road maintenance, but eff it, drivers are the ones breaking that s**t. 

    http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013...

    Pannda seems to believe that cars have existed for centuries--when most roads were built. Sorry, but they were built for pedestrians, wagons, livestock, and yes, bicycles. Cyclists have the same rights on the road as cars, and the onus is on the car operator-- the imbecile texting on his phone and eating a burrito in a 2k lb machine -- to be vigilant. That is why the cyclists "take up half the road"--I imagine it's better than getting run off/run over by an oblivious car. 

    If you're so worried about your gas mileage and consumer pricing--obviously more so than the health of the environment, roadways, healthcare related tax payer costs and your fellow man--then maybe you should look into a bicycle. I hear they get great gas mileage. :p

    -n

  • Mikkospano

    So.....car drivers should carry even more weight, cost and responsibility for the actions of irresponsible cyclists. Um...no. Not going to happen.

  • rickysynnot

    No, that's not fair Mikkospano.  Last year in Melbourne, Australia a woman cyclist was killed in the city because a bus ran a red light.  A mother with kids, dead.  

    I dont think you can just generalise and say 'irresponsible cyclists' in response to this article.  Look at the cyclists in the video. They are not riding irresponsibly.  Think about mums, dads, kids.  Think about the elderly who have every right to ride a bike on the road.

    I mean, really, if you are behind the wheel of a car, and that car hits a person riding a bike, you are at fault.  Its the same as mowing down a pedestrian.

    Cyclists have just as equal right to use the road as you do in a car.  Equal.  Not less, they do not have to get out of the way, or give way to you just because you are in a car. Sure, there are rules dictating how cyclists can use the road, but they have every right to.  

    If a car driver can not drive safely enough and expects to hit cyclists, then I think there's another problem here. You are being very narrow minded.

  • CCCrazyPannda

    No, please. It's this kind of crap that makes cars weigh more than they should, robbing them of gas mileage, and forcing consumers to pay more for their vehicles than they should. I'm a responsible driver. I have not hit a single cyclist even though they take up half the road. I shouldn't have to pay more for a new car just because other people suck at driving.

    Cyclists need to take the risk that roads were built for cars, and cars belong there.... not cyclists.

  • CCCrazyPannda

    "A cyclist has the right (moral and legal) to take up as much of the road as a driver does"

    Legal: false. If a cyclist were to ride in the middle of the road, they would be fined.
    Moral: also false. Cycling is recreational, it's not as if cyclists are on their way to work. Meanwhile I have to travel 10 miles to get to work, so for you to suggest that it's practical for me to ride a bike there (in New England) is absolutely asinine.

    Therefore, I have a greater need to drive places (e.g. to work) than a cyclist does to recreational exercise.

    Further, a collision between two vehicles as a result of a cyclist hogging the road causes more financial damage, and potentially more injury, than if the cyclist got hit (especially since he made the choice to hog the road in the first place).

    So wrong on the moral front too, buddy.

  • Epeterson8

    A cyclist has the right (moral and legal) to take up as much of the road as a driver does. Just because they are choosing a healthier (for them and others), safer (for them and other), and more environmentally-, economically-, and socially-friendly (albeit smaller and slower) vehicle does not mean they should be squeezed to the shoulder of the road.

    If you want the right to use a large, fast, loud, polluting machine, then you should be prepared to pay for it. 

  • Nick von Darkthrone

    The monies collected to MAINTAIN (important word) roads comes from many sources, not just drivers. Drivers do fund a SLIGHT majority of the road maintenance, but fuck it, drivers are the ones breaking that shit. 
    http://dc.streetsblog.org/2013... seems to believe that cars have existed for centuries--when most roads were built. Sorry, but they were built for pedestrians, wagons, livestock, and yes, bicycles. Cyclists have the same rights on the road as cars, and the onus is on the car operator-- the tard texting on his phone and eating a burrito in a 2k lb machine -- to be vigilant. That is why the cyclists "take up half the road"--I imagine it's better than getting run off/run over by an oblivious car. 
    If you're so worried about your gas mileage and consumer pricing--obviously more so than the health of the environment, roadways, healthcare related tax payer costs and your fellow man--then maybe you should look into a bicycle. I hear they get great gas mileage. :p

    -n

  • rickysynnot

    This is awesome!  Hopefully there's an easy way to bring this into cars, and it doesn't take 20 years before we see this in the consumer market.  

    How about an airbag vest for bike riders, that basically blows you up like the michelin man when it detects "impact"?  Hard to calculate?  Often its not the car that kills you, but hitting the road after being knocked off your bike.

    One day, i'll keep dreaming! 

  • Jbonawitz

     I think this is a great idea. I don't know about cost, feasibility, etc., but I can't help but remember (yes, I'm THAT old) when people pooh-poohed seat belts, air bags, bike helmets, etc. Now that stuff is virtually universal, the costs are reasonable (economy of scale), and no one in his right mind would take the seat belts and air bags out of his car.

  • $27180517

    At first glance that's actually what I thought the article was about....this just seems like on impact there would be a springboard effect that launches the biker or pedestrian on impact and that doesn't seem like it would help them.