"The raised bonnet absorbs some of the energy of the impact, reducing the risk of serious injury to the pedestrian, says Hardy, whose project forms part of the European Union-funded Integrated Project on Advanced Protection Systems (APROSYS). "If it's a large pedestrian or on a small town car, the airbag also provides a cushioning effect around the stiff peripheral regions [of the windscreen]," he says.
The airbag system used by Hardy was developed by the German company Takata Petri. To test its efficacy when combined with the raised bonnet, they were incorporated into a prototype Fiat Stilo by engineers at the Fiat Research Centre in Turin, Italy. The team then assessed the severity of head injuries in collisions with a dummy pedestrian.
A standard Stilo hitting a pedestrian at 40 kilometres per hour, so that their heads struck the back of the bonnet, would have a score of around 1000 on the Head Impact Criterion (HIC) scale - corresponding to an 18 per cent chance of a life-threatening injury. For pedestrians hitting Hardy's bonnet, the scores were reduced to between 234 and 682, while the windscreen airbag scores ranged from 692 to 945.