London, June 16 : A Toyota subsidiary is close to perfecting exterior airbags which, in the event of a collision with a pedestrian, will open at the front of the bonnet.
Developed by the Nagoya-based Toyoda Gosei, the new airbag system may protect the lives of hundreds of pedestrians.
The company has revealed that the system uses sensors, which employ a computer to constantly scan the road ahead and calculate when the car is about to hit a pedestrian.
Before an accident occurs, the airbag will burst open to cushion the impact.
Toyoda Gosei recently exhibited the new airbag system at a motor show in Japan.
Those who saw the presentation were told that the system employed radars to scan the road hundreds of metres ahead of anything that could be a pedestrian, and infra-red sensors to look for signs of body heat from the object.
Experts giving the presentation also said that the front airbag was designed to reduce waist injuries in adults, and head injuries in children.
The airbags would rapidly deflate after any incident to avoid the "bouncy castle effect", which might have pedestrians catapulted back on to the road or into the path of other vehicles.
The company has revealed that its experts are working through millions of calculations for thousands of cars, with a view to ensuring that the airbags go off at the right time, depending on the model of car.
However, a spokesman for the company said that he was yet not ready to say when the production of the pedestrian protection airbags could begin.
"We have almost completed the development of the pedestrian protection airbags. We are now calculating the precise timing to set off the airbags. If the timing is wrong, the airbags cannot protect pedestrians," the Scotsman quoted him as telling a Japanese technology news service.
The company did not even reveal how much such airbags would cost.