A specially designed bonnet that “pops up” in an accident to help protect against pedestrian head injuries has been developed by engineers at Ford.

The mechanical bonnet system is featured on a demonstration Focus which also has a modified bumper and redesigned headlamps that help absorb the impact in a pedestrian accident, reducing leg injuries.

The bonnet system uses sensors to detect contact between a pedestrian and the leading edge of the bumper or bonnet. The bonnet is then moved back and up using either spring pressure or pyrotechnically by gas injectors. The device will not activate in a car-to-car collision and is also disabled when the vehicle is parked.

The bumper uses multiple density foams and a structural undertray designed to support the legs of a pedestrian, reduce impact forces and so decrease the risk of serious leg and knee injuries.

The headlamp surround has also been redesigned, using a deformable housing which pushes the headlamp back into the body of the car, avoiding the chance of the lens cover breaking and reducing the risk of cuts to the pedestrian’s legs.

The vehicle was designed following accident research in Aachen, Germany. The preliminary findings of crash tests using the vehicle are being analysed and will be shared with engineers working on future generations of cars.