Nissan is developing a "pop-up hood" to reduce pedestrian fatalities in head-on collisions
Every year an estimated 780,000 pedestrians die worldwide in automobile accidents -- that's 65% of total automobile related fatalities. This tragic level of pedestrian injuries affects the GDP of countries by 1-3% and exceeds malnutrition, war, and stomach cancer as an international cause of death. With a forecast of 60 million further injuries and six million deaths over the next decade in developing countries, car manufacturers like Nissan are investing in ways to curb this trend such as the "pop-up hood" -- a safety measure to be introduced for the first time in the the Skyline coupe scheduled for release in Japan this year.
Eighty percent of serious pedestrian injuries caused by automobile collisions are head injuries. Of these head injuries, almost all are caused by the pedestrian's initial impact with the hood of the car. The concept of the pop-up hood is to create a buffer space between the hood and the engine, thereby decreasing the impact of the most drastic, and most common, cause of pedestrian injury and death. The British Medical Journal found that a 10cm gap greatly decelerates the pedestrian -- and predicts that when combined with other safety measures and restrictions, this could help to decrease the fatality rate by 20%.
The pop-up hood includes sensors mounted in the bumper which, upon impact with a pedestrian, activate the pop-up control-unit to trigger an explosive actuator that rapidly lifts the hood. With regulations aimed at improving pedestrian safety expected in Europe in the future, Nissan is not the only car manufacturer to experiment with this design. The Citroön C6 and Jaguar XK also include pop-up hood technology. Nissan is incorporating the pop-up hood as part of a wider "Safety Shield" initiative -- it hopes to halve the number of traffic fatalities or serious injuries involving Nissan vehicles by 2015.