Modern Safety Systems

Cars are getting faster by the second. Docile too. But that hasn’t stopped anyone from making transportation any less safer. Safety was, and still is a top priority. The case is similar with the upper echelons of motorsports. The giants of this fiscal food chain spend just as much to ensure their passengers are safe, with least possible injuries suffered. This article, while a bit geeky talks about the modern safety systems festooned in the cars you and I drive, or travel in.

WHIPS (Whiplash Protection System)

This system is designed to prevent a neck injury that can occur when the head suddenly moves backward and then forward. This type of injury can occur, for example, during rear-end vehicle collisions. Injuries range from mild to severe. The main symptom is pain in the neck and shoulders.

The seriousness of the issue is quite profound

WHIPS was introduced by Volvo in 1998. Launched with the S80 in the year 1999. This system however is now offered as standard equipment

The first car with WHIPS

A WHIPS equipped seat is designed so that the entire backrest helps to protect the front occupant’s neck in a case of a rear impact. When the WHIPS system is deployed, the front seat backrests and headrests are lowered backward to change the seating position of the driver and front seat passenger. The main energy is absorbed via a pivot at the base of the seat – mechanism which allows the seat to move around the occupants actual hip joint while moving rearward to absorb additional energy.

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A piece of metal inside the backrest hinge deforms, absorbing more energy. The hinge piece needs to be replaced after having been deployed. According to Volvo’s traffic accident research team, the WHIPS equipped seat resulted in a 33% reduction in short term injury and a 54% reduction in long term whiplash injuries caused by car accidents.

The mechanism behind it all

Blind spot monitor

The blind spot monitor is a vehicle-based sensor device that detects other vehicles located to the driver’s side and rear. Warnings offered by the blind spot monitor can be visual, audible, vibrating, or tactile. However, blind spot monitors are an option that may do more than monitor the sides and rear of the vehicle. They may also include “Cross Traffic Alert”, which alerts drivers backing out of a parking space when traffic is approaching from the sides.

Cameras or sensors do the job

Again, this system was born in the Volvo S80 sedan way back in 2007. It produced a visible alert when a car entered the blind spot while a driver was switching lanes, using two door mounted lenses to check the blind spot area for an impending collision.

Sensors scan all around you, so that you remain safe at all times. Dope.

 Side Impact Protection System

SIPS or Side Impact Protection System is the name of a system to protect against injury in a side collision, developed by Volvo.

Hulk may struggle to cause a dent here.

This system works by having a reinforced lower sill,  B-pillar and energy absorbing honeycomb materials inside the doors. The prime idea is to more widely distribute the energy in a side collision across the whole side of the car rather than having the b-pillar absorb it all.

Driver and passenger seat are mounted on transverse steel rails, not bolted to the floor as per the standard configuration. In case of a side impact these transverse rails allow the seats to crush a reinforced centre console designed to absorb additional energy.

Very very clever

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Collision avoidance system

The  collision avoidance system is designed to reduce the severity of a collision.  It uses radars (all-weather) and sometimes laser and camera to detect an imminent crash.  GPS sensors can detect fixed dangers such as approaching stop signs through a location database.

Braking done automatically without the driver breaking a sweat

Collision avoidance system is tasked with providing warning to the driver. In case of low speed instances, they can apply brakes without any driver intervention. They change the steering angle at high speeds to prevent collision. Cars with collision avoidance may also be equipped with adaptive cruise control, and use the same forward-looking sensors.

Honda has developed since 2004 a night vision system that highlights pedestrians in front of the vehicle by alerting the driver with an audible chime and visually displaying them via HUD. This clever piece of technology developed by Honda only works in temperatures below 30 degrees Celsius.

Night vision cameras are now offered in high end cars as standard or as an option

Pedestrian Airbag

This is by far, my favourite system, simply because it protects you as well as the person you collide against by minimizing the damage caused to your beloved car. On January 1, 2009, Euro NCAP, the famous European safety organization, announced a new rating system that was focused more than ever on pedestrian protection, especially to force car manufacturers increase their efforts in this regard.

The V40 with its pedestrian airbag

As always, Volvo is one of the first companies that come in the spotlight to announce a new innovation: the so-called pedestrian airbag. First car to feature it: Volvo V40.

7 sensors are buzzing discretely all around the car defend the front side of the car, keeping an eye on every single collision that might occur. Under the hood, a control unit receives every byte of information and allows the available systems to act accordingly.

A safe little Swedish car

Basically, the moment when an impact is about to happen, the front sensors send information to the connected control unit which, in its turn, analyses the information to detect the shape of the object. In case it determines that the car is about to hit pedestrian legs, the control units activates the airbag. It’s Mounted at the bottom of the windshield, the airbag can cover not only the surrounding area of the wipers, but also one-third of the windscreen and the lower part of the A pillars. The airbag can cover exactly the areas likely to be hit by the adult pedestrian head in the unfortunate case of an impact.

Exhaustive testing before the system makes its way into mass production

Cars are now safer than ever. With driverless cars just around the corner, the safety is a prime concern for passengers, pedestrians and manufacturers. It won’t be long before Autopilot and similar AI based systems makes it’s way into your commute. Until then, drive safe.

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