Showing posts with label airbag. Show all posts
Showing posts with label airbag. Show all posts

12 November 2012

External Airbags on Cars - Update

Here's another update about the Dutch external airbags on cars to protect cyclists and pedestrians. Informative little film. Looks like the project we've written about previously is coming along nicely.

Also, it's refreshing to see some rationality included in the commentary:

"A cyclist has limited chances of survival in accidents over 40 km/h - the average accident speed. Commercially-available cycle helmets offer some protection but in limited scenarios and at a maximum speed of 20 km/h..."

29 March 2010

Airbags Instead of Bike Helmets

I received an email from a friend at the Dutch Cyclists Union - Fietsersbond. In the subject line it read, "Airbags instead of bike helmets".

Back in June 2008 I blogged about Bicycle Airbags on Cars and about how the Danish Cyclists Federation were interested in getting the Traffic Safety Board to investigate a Dutch study that suggested external airbags on cars would save cyclists' lives. That was the last we heard of it in this country.

But the Dutch... oh, the Dutch... Undefeated World Champions in Bicycle Advocacy and Societal Rationality... (no, let's not forget the Hungarians...) they've kept at it. The idea of airbags on cars to protect cyclists started as a kind of a "what if..." story in the Fietsersbond's magazine a few years ago.

Now the idea is nearing fruition. In a press release from early March 2010 the Fietsersbond boldy declares that cars will be equipped with airbags for cyclist collisions by 2015.
Beans Bicycle Air Bag
The Dutch do their homework. Like any self-respecting advocacy org they have traffic consultants dedicated to scientific issues and they know that bicycle helmets don't have a lot going for them as far as effectiveness goes. They know that the mere promotion of helmets reduces cycling and they've read the chilling results of the mathematician Professor Piet de Jong's study about the heavy price helmet laws inflict on countries and regions.

So, in an inspired moment of rationality, they decided to put forth the idea of putting air bags on the machines that cause the damage - the cars. No ignoring the bull here. Place the responsibility where it belongs.

The airbags for cars idea met a great deal of enthusiasm in the Netherlands. So much so that funding has been given to test the idea.

And the email I recieved today was about the Dutch Transport Minister pledging €1 million more for further research. Here's the minister saying stuff about it in Dutch:

The crash test in the film is one of a series to determine where cyclists land on cars in order to figure out where the airbags should be placed. The next step is the completion of a detection system for pedestrians and cyclists. Then there is a test on the streets of Amsterdam.

"Thanks to this detection system, an airbag will be activated in the event of a collision so as to considerably cushion the impact of a cyclist’s head on the windscreen. The cyclist will not die from his injuries, and will have a good chance of coming out virtually unscathed."

"The test in Amsterdam will take a year. The researchers of Autoliv and TNO Automotive want to know if the sensors on the front of the car will function well under all weather conditions. The test car will be fitted with a button which the driver must push in special situations, such as a collision or near collision. The recordings of the detection system’s cameras will be saved. The researchers want to analyse the observations of the system. A collision sensor is fitted in addition to the sensors - the cameras - that will recognise cyclists. This collision sensor registers when a cyclist is indeed hit and an airbag should be activated. These extensive tests are needed in order to make sure that the system is fully reliable. The airbags should only be activated when a cyclist or pedestrian is hit. It is not supposed to activate when the car hits a pigeon or post."

Mandatory Airbags on Cars?
‘The airbag is expected to be taken into production in 2015, but that of course depends on the wishes of consumers and car manufacturers’, says Van de Broek of TNO.

‘That’s an amazing result’, says Theo Zeegers who is responsible for the project on behalf of the Fietsersbond. ‘We’ve come much further than we’d ever hoped for.’ The costs involved are as yet unknown, but Zeegers expects it will be a couple of hundred Euros per car. He pleads for the airbag system to become a compulsory part of each new car. ‘Just compare it to the compulsory introduction of the catalytic converter.’

A compulsory airbag on the windscreen will add a couple of hundred Euros to a car’s price tag. But what does it yield? According to Zeegers, it may save dozens of cyclists’ lives in the Netherlands. In terms of the EU we are talking hundreds of lives."

The airbag system is a big success for the Fietsersbond. ‘In collisions with passenger cars in which the cyclists dies, it is nearly always the head injuries that are fatal. That’s why we’ve been busy for years trying to find out how we can make cars safer for cyclists’, says Zeegers.

TNO carried out an exploratory study on the instructions of the Fietsersbond four years ago. They expected the shape of the front of a car to largely determine the seriousness of the injuries. Ultimately however, it emerged that airbags on the exterior of a car may save many a cyclist’s life. But they have to be in the right position.

The TNO studies showed that cyclists often benefit little from an airbag system specifically developed for pedestrians. In a collision, pedestrians end up with their heads on the hood or the lower part of the windscreen. That is often different for cy-
clists however. Their heads usually do not hit the hood, but the upper part of the windscreen. If they are unlucky, their heads even hit the hard metal window stiles. This is where airbags for cyclists should be fitted.

Dead or dizzy
So we know that an airbag can drastically cushion the impact. But by how much? Researchers express the force of the impact in Head Injury Criterion (HIC). This HIC value should stay below 1,000. For the elderly, this value should even be below 600. During computer simulations carried out by TNO in 2008 it emerged that in a collision at 30 kilometres per hour, the cyclist endures an HIC value of 3,700. Hardly anyone would be expected to survive such an impact. With the airbag however, the HIC value dropped to 590. All a cyclist will suffer from in that case is a headache and dizziness.

Here's a link, in Dutch, to the Fietsersbond's page about this exciting project.

23 October 2009

Volvo Tries to Brake for Pedestrians

Volvo is wrapping up testing their new - and clumsily named - Collision Warning with Full Auto Brake and Pedestrian Detection to be included as extra gear in their new S60 model.

What that means is that the car is designed to detect pedestrians and a prototype has been driving around Copenhagen to 'train' the system.

It is meant to spot all pedestrians in front of the car as well as off to the sides in a 60 degree angle. It will warn the driver with a red flashing light on the windshield if the car is on a collision course with a pedestrian.

If the driver doesn't react quick enough it will brake automatically up to 25 km/h and stop by itself if the car is travelling under 25 km/h.

Copenhagen was chosen as a test city because we have a lot of pedestrians. The test car's screen shows pedestrians popping up. Sometimes cyclists show up but urban inventory like trees and posts don't register.

The Danish daily newspaper Politiken took a test drive and they asked why cyclists weren't included. Volvo replied that they are taking it one step at a time. "Cyclists will perhaps be next on the list, and then animals. It is very complicated to teach the system to read pedestrians' form and structure and separate them from other objects. Because it's just as important to not send false warnings as it is to register pedestrians. If the system beeps, warns and brakes too often, the driver will tire of it and shut it down", said Martin Magnusson from Volvo.

Therefore the system developers have been all around the world for months in order to teach the system to recognize all the different kinds of pedestrians and to learn different weather and light conditions. The system doesn't work at night.

The development of this system has taken 10 years. Pedestrians were chosen first because 16% of all traffic related deaths in Sweden are pedestrians and 11% of all serious injuries in accidents are pedestrians. They are the high risk group. The speed is under 25 km/h in half of these accidents which is why a total automatic stop will have an enormous effect. And a reduction of speed from 50 to 25 km/h will reduce the risk of death by 85%.

"A completely concentrated and sharp driver is always the best option, and better than this system. But research into a long list of collisions show that the driver was occupied with something else other than driving in 93% of the accidents. And half - 47% - didn't even have time to react because of the distration. This is where our safety system comes into play", said Jonas Tisell, who heads the project for Volvo.


So this sounds like somebody who is not actually ignoring the Bull in Society's China Shop. The idea sounds interesting. Not unlike the Dutch project to place airbags on the outside of cars [which is so far developed that crash test dummy tests are scheduled for later this year].

There is the chance that drivers will be lulled into yet another false sense of security by this system. John Adams, Emeritus Professor of Geography at University College London has an excellent blog called Risk in a Hypermobile World where he, among other things, questions the hype about the effectiveness of seat belts.

What say you all? Good idea this Volvo thing? Or not?

29 June 2008

Bicycle Airbags on Cars

The Danes are looking at a Dutch study to see if external air bags on cars will help save lives. Since bicycle helmets are so limited in their protection and little conclusive scientific evidence exists that they save lives or prevent serious injury in collisions with other vehicles, it is possible that placement of air bags on cars can help.
Cyclists are currently using other systems for protection.
Air bags are standard features on all new cars sold in Denmark but it is only the driver and passengers inside the car who benefit from them.

The Danish Cyclists' Union [DCF] wants to change all that. The DCF wants the Traffic Safety Board to research the possibility of putting air bags on the outside of cars, between the hood and the windshield. Last year 62 pedestrians were killed in traffic and between 40-50 cyclists lose their lives on Danish roads each year.

"We should exploit all the technological possibilities that can reduce the number of cyclists and pedestrians who are killed or injured because of impact with cars", said a spokesman for the DCF.
Bicycle Airbags on Cars to protect pedestrians and cyclists
Drawing from the Dutch study.
216 Dutch cyclists were killed in traffic in 2006 and a state sponsored study showed that the lives of 60 cyclists and pedestrians could be saved each year, including prevention of 1500 serious injuries, if air bags are installed between the hood of the car and the windshield.

Airbags on Bikes and Scooters
The chairman of the Traffic Safety Board [Færdselssikkerhedskommissionen] and member of the Parliament's traffic group, Karsten Nonbo, is ready to look at the Dutch study.

"The number of cyclists and pedestrians who lose their lives in traffic is too high. Because of that single fact is is most relevant to look at the results from the Netherlands and at what initiatives and investment can be made to bring the number down", he said.

Karsten Nonbo also mentions that it is worth looking at possibilities for constructing airbags for mounting on bicycles and scooters.

[He does a lot of promising to 'look at things'... would be nicer if he actually had his finger on the pulse as chairman of the Traffic Safety Board and had read the Dutch study when it came out.]
Alternative airbag
Karsten Nonbo yesterday.

via: DR