In order to improve traffic safety for the vulnerable road users – cyclists and pedestrians - TNO develops a special airbag, an 'automatic braking system' and other innovations under the project name SaveCAP (safer vehicles for cyclists and pedestrians).
Dutch roads become safer and safer. Training and education, infrastructural safety measures and technology all cause a decreasing trend in the number of traffic victims over the years. By now, the annual number of traffic victims in Holland is 'only' 661 (2011). Roughly a third are pedestrians and cyclists, the most vulnerable groups in traffic. This number is high and remains constant for years now. How to lower this figure? On behalf of the Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment TNO examined what the most suitable solutions would be. Fitting out cars with an automatic braking system or a windshield airbag proved to be the most promising solutions to improve safety. The ministry allocated one million euros to develop such a special airbag'.
The airbag developed in SaveCAP covers the lower site of the windshield and the side members adjacent to the windscreen. The car is fitted out with a forward facing camera under the rear view mirror and an intelligent system that classifies all objects seen by the camera. In case of pedestrians or cyclists, coming into a time-critical zone, the system switches to 'alert' mode. When sensors in the car bumper subsequently detect contact with the object the airbag unfolds instantaneously. in addition to the airbag, it can also be used for automatic braking and other innovations.
In theory the system promises a lot for the safety of vulnerable groups in traffic. But can the airbag live up to this promise in practice? That is researched by TNO, in cooperation with the Swedish airbag producer Autoliv, the Dutch Cyclists' Union and the Dutch Insurance company Centraal Beheer Achmea.
Two years of research have resulted in a working demo of the special airbag with convincing positive results. The demonstration will be held on the 8th of November 2012 during the International Cycling Safety Congress 2012 on the Automotive Campus in Helmond, The Netherlands.