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Surprising Science

These Cars’ Airbags Are For Cyclists

With the help of Dutch government funding, a Danish company is developing exterior airbags that will protect the cyclist in the event of a collision.

What’s the Latest Development?

Danish design company TNO has received €1 million from the Dutch government to help design and develop a type of exterior airbag that, when deployed, will cushion a cyclist in the event of a collision. An onboard system determines the likelihood of a crash by using data from a camera positioned on the rear-view mirror. If there’s a high risk of collision, the car will automatically brake and the airbags will inflate from the bottom of the windshield. TNO developed their system by “[looking] at every detail of a cycle crash, specifically at the impact points at a vehicle’s front end,” and tested it for over a year driving through major Dutch cities.

What’s the Big Idea?

In the Netherlands, bikes and cyclists are everywhere, which makes protecting them a priority. Every year 200 cyclists and 70 pedestrians are killed in car collisions, and helmets are less effective as the speed of the car increases. A study in Portland, OR showed that of 1,000 cyclists, 18 percent were injured while biking, and a third of those required medical attention. Interestingly, one Volvo model already comes with an exterior airbag system, but it’s only sold in Europe.

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Read it at Wired


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