Cars could get exterior airbags to protect cyclists

Trial in Amsterdam this autumn

An exterior car airbag system designed to protect cyclists and pedestrians is to be tested out in Amsterdam this autumn.

Dutch cyclists’ organisation Fietserbond wants to see the system fitted to vehicles throughout Europe in the expectation of saving hundreds of lives.

Developed by the Swedish-American firm Autoliv in co-operation with a number of other bodies, the technology could be in production by 2015. The cost is expected to be in the region of €200 (approx £180/US$275) a car.

The prototype system uses a couple of small airbags that lift the rear part of the car bonnet and make it more flexible. Further airbags cover the top of the bonnet and windshield pillars.

It’s the sensors that activate the bags which are under scrutiny in the Amsterdam trial rather than the bags themselves. The developers want to ensure that the system protects cyclists – who tend to hit vehicles higher up in head-on collisions – as well as pedestrians. They also want to ensure that the sensors activate the system in collisions with people, not with lampposts or the like.

Money is still needed to conduct the research. Half of the €2.7 million (£2.4m/$3.7m) needed has come from the Dutch Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. It is expected that other countries and organisations will come up with the rest. Also to be found is a firm or organisation with vehicles doing a lot of miles in the city to help with the trial.

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