YOKOHAMA, Japan -- Mazda Motor Corp. is developing technology to protect occupants from whiplash in a car that is rear-ended.
It also is developing a system to protect pedestrians. The system includes exterior airbags mounted on the front bumper and in front of the windshield, and a hood that raises automatically.
The rear-impact system, which is in the concept stage, uses a rear-mounted camera to sense when the car, whether moving or stationary, is about to be rear-ended. It then activates seat belt pretensioners and adjusts the headrests to reduce the risk of whiplash.
Mazda showed a video simulation of the system during a media briefing at its design center here. The system is one of the technologies and vehicles Mazda will display at the Tokyo auto show in November.
This year's show is dedicated to commercial vehicles and vehicles designed to assist those with disabilities. Each exhibitor also can allot 20 percent of its stand to passenger vehicles.
The pedestrian system activates the exterior airbags when a radar sensor and camera determine that an impact with a pedestrian is imminent. The windshield airbag extends up both A-pillars and across the edge of the windshield.
The system also applies the brakes and elevates the hood to increase the energy-absorbing space between the hood and the engine.
The system is similar to ones that other carmakers are developing. A Mazda engineer implied that Mazda is following Volvo's lead in developing the system. Ford Motor Co., which owns 33.4 percent of Mazda, has designated its Volvo unit as the Ford Group's leader in safety systems.
Safety regulators in Japan and Europe are increasing their attention to pedestrian protection. Pedestrian fatalities make up roughly 30 percent of traffic fatalities in Japan and Europe and about 13 percent of fatalities in the United States.
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