Skip to main content

Volvo developing the EnVeloP whole car airbag

An exterior airbag that will surround the entire body of a vehicle in the event of an accident is under development by Volvo, exactly one year after the company announced the pedestrian airbag on the Volvo V40.
Posted: April 1, 2013 - 6:29PM
Author: Don Bain

Join us...    

In The World Is Not Enough, James Bond deploys a device built into his jacket that forms a 12-foot airbag bubble to protect him and his paramour from an avalanche in the Swiss Alps. If you recall that image, it will provide a clue to how Volvo’s EnVeloP system will work.

Volvo’s External Vehicle Protection (from which the brand selected certain letters to create the EnVeloP acronym) is concealed within the roof of the vehicle. Within a concealed compartment a folded balloon, made of material similar to standard airbags, awaits deployment.

When a collision is imminent and unavoidable, regardless of what the impact is with – another car, an immobile object or even a watery surface – the balloon will unfold in less than a second surrounding the car with a protective cushion.

By entirely enveloping the car, the EnVeloP system minimizes damage to the vehicle and what it collides with, while Volvo’s internal safety systems protect the occupants.

Furthermore, if you happen to be the kind of person who is aroused by a collision with a beautiful Swede, an instantaneous privacy curtain would be provided, as well.

That was our little joke, but Volvo’s development of this technology is completely on the level. Though their reputation came into question a decade ago, the brand appears to have returned to their roots and mission to build the safest cars on the road.

Will Volvo be the first to offer autonomous cars in the name of safety? Somehow it would not surprise us.

Volvo Cars has built its history on a clear leadership in automobile safety research and innovation, characterized by the development of breakthrough technology across the decades. This new and revolutionary safety system takes Volvo’s legendary auto safety very appropriately to the next level.

"For years, we have been looking at how to increase safety in our vehicles, and the airbag has played a central role in that journey," says Thomas Broberg, Senior Technical Adviser Safety at the Volvo Cars Safety Center.

"This new safety feature is the embodiment of the Volvo brand philosophy, Designed Around You. All we did was taking a very literal approach to Designed Around You. Instead of finding new areas inside the car where we could add more airbag-like safety systems, we asked ourselves: why not cover the complete car in an airbag-like solution?"

And even though the EnVeloP system is still in testing, you can be sure whatever James Bond is driving in the next film, when his vehicle drives off the bridge into the icy waters East of Irkutsk, a balloon will protect him and the next Bond girl. Then, Q’s smarmy replacement can rejoice over Volvo showing MI6 how to protect Her Majesty’s assets from the agent with a license to kill.

In the real world, you’ll see this first on a Volvo.

Join us...