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Pedestrian protection doesn't only happen on the road

When pedestrian protection standards go beyond legal provisions

Sporty design is trendy! Young, dynamic and expressive – values that you often find in modern-day vehicles from premium manufacturers. They shape a design language that can be found everywhere in vehicles: a flat design and low front. What sounds exceedingly positive at first proves not to be an advantage in all aspects when you take a closer look.

As attractive as flat bonnets might be, they can be fatal to pedestrians in the event of a collision. The pedestrian is thrown onto the bonnet in the event of an impact due to the flat design. No one wants to experience that.

Conflict between design and safety

You don't have to be a development expert to realise that target conflicts arise between designers and safety experts. One calls for a flat, streamlined look while the other fights for the safety of other road users. "I can remember exciting projects where designers, people responsible for the packages and experts for operational stability and vehicle safety all sat at one table. Educational work was required to show that the best for all parties can be realistic", remembers Maren Finck, expert and project manageress for vehicle safety and pedestrian protection at EDAG.

EDAG consciously decided to face this conflict and is working together with the large car brands on clever solutions. The idea behind it is to catapult the bonnet a few centimetres upwards in a crash with pyrotechnical charges. It is just a few centimetres but it makes a huge difference, because the momentum of the impact is absorbed by the bonnet distorting instead of an impact on the engine block for example.

Additional airbags, attached to the outside of the vehicle especially for pedestrians, provide extra support. For the designers, this concept means that hardly any restrictions to the design language need to be accepted because a flat design can be retained initially.

The active bonnet

The concept of the active bonnet may not seem like an absolute innovation in the automobile industry to some. But the bumper fitted with various sensors definitely is one. A collision pattern is thereby created during a crash with the help of pressure sensors and acceleration sensors. A collision with a guard rail, a bin or an unnoticed parking meter has an entirely different characteristic to one with a pedestrian. Using different patterns, a decision is made within milliseconds on whether the bonnet needs to be shot up. This largely prevents misfiring.

Measures for safety in the event of a collision are also specified by legislators. With all of the developments, EDAG is, however, not just satisfied with what is required. Pedestrian protection does not take place in a laboratory but needs to show what it can do on the roads. It is therefore no wonder that EDAG has another aim – "our aim is to develop the best possible protection for other road users with a clear conscience. This means a genuine premium from our point of view!", says expert Maren Finck.

The principles are important

The expert sees even more involvement in so-called active safety measures in future. These measures intervene before the actual crash situation because they are anticipatory to some extent. If a crash cannot be avoided despite the vehicle automatically applying the full brake (also a measure from the area of active safety), the active bonnet can be initiated much earlier, for example. The bonnet can be extended further upwards or extra supporting air cushions can be activated in the time gained.

Whatever pedestrian protection might look like tomorrow or the day after: the experts from EDAG are showing that it is all about the principles you apply to your own work. The principle of achieving the very best for the vehicle, driver and all of those around you. And therefore going one step further technologically.