Tesla’s “Active Hood” Safety Feature Could Save Lives

2 months ago by Steven Loveday 13

Tesla Model S and X vehicles in Europe and Australia adhere to Euro NCAP Pedestrian Safety requirements, which maintain that vehicle hoods must have a specified amount of clearance above structural components to minimize injuries in pedestrian collisions.

The fact that Tesla’s vehicles follow this protocol is not the interesting part, however, the way in which the vehicles achieve the compliance is hidden and unique. It’s not something that is talked about in the U.S., because the mandates don’t apply. So, information regarding the “Active Hood” feature is widely unknown.

Tesla

An Active Hood lifts to create space and better absorb the pedestrian’s impact.

Tesla has installed a pyrotechnic system that raises the rear portion of the hood (closest to the windshield), if a frontal pedestrian crash is detected. The hood immediately lifts by a few inches so that the pedestrian’s impact hits a softer, and more movable surface than that of the solid parts beneath the hood, or even the windshield.

According to Teslarati, Carspotter Daily posted a video  – attempting to simulate a vehicle/pedestrian collision – on the Tesla Motors Club forum. There is no information stating whether or not CarSpotter was trying to get the Active Hood to employ, or the video was simply testing the Tesla Model S’ Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) system. This is not unlike Kman Auto’s videos that we shared awhile back, which put our own former contributor, Mike Anthony, in front of a moving Model S, in order to test out the AEB system.

In the end, it doesn’t really matter, because neither system – the AEB or Active Hood features – was engaged, and all that was shown was Autopilot’s ability to detect humans. But, Teslarati did catch a reference to the “mystical” Active Hood feature in the forum post video’s closing notes.

Tesla’s Autopilot system does such a good job of detecting pedestrians and avoiding any potential collision in the first place, that getting the Active Hood feature to employ is obviously difficult. If a collision is not imminent, the system won’t activate.

Teslarati reported that an incident involving a kangaroo, in Australia, showed the system working its magic. Those that witnessed the collision said that it must have worked as intended, because the animal may have suffered a broken leg, but it didn’t appear to have any head injury.

The hood on the Tesla is actually covering the “frunk” of the car, so it includes a seal to keep water out. This is very unlike the hoods in traditional ICE vehicles, which allow water to pass through. Tesla had to work out a special design and patent to make its vehicles comply.

The Tesla Model S manual – in its European configuration – explains the Active Hood feature (via Teslarati):

ACTIVE HOOD

Model S features a pyrotechnically-assisted pedestrian protection system that reduces head injuries to pedestrians and cyclists in a frontal collision. If the sensors in the front bumper detect an impact with a pedestrian when Model S is moving between 19 and 53 km/h, the rear portion of the hood automatically raises approximately 80 mm. This creates space between the relatively soft hood and the hard components beneath to absorb some of the impact energy in a collision.

Note: The pedestrian protection system relies on a series of sensors and algorithms to determine when Active Hood should deploy. Therefore, the system may not deploy in all collision or crash situations.
If Active Hood has been deployed, the instrument panel displays an alert and an audible chime sounds. Immediately take Model S to the nearest Tesla Service Center. Active Hood’s associated sensors and actuators must be serviced by Tesla whenever Active Hood has been deployed.

Warning: Deployment of Active Hood may cause the raised hood to partially obstruct driver vision. Driving a car with a deployed hood increases the risk of a collision. A car with a deployed hood should be immediately taken to the nearest Tesla Service Center.

Warning: If the instrument panel displays an alert indicating that Active Hood has been deployed in situations where it has not, immediately drive Model S to the nearest Tesla Service Center.

Note: If damage occurs to the front bumper, contact Tesla for a list of Tesla-approved body shops in your area. Tesla approves specific body shops to ensure they meet strict requirements for training, equipment, quality, and customer satisfaction.

Source: Teslarati

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13 responses to "Tesla’s “Active Hood” Safety Feature Could Save Lives"

  1. unlucky says:

    Not terribly unique. Many cars on Europe have these. It was first developed about a decade ago.

    So companies (like Buick) even use the feature within the US despite it not being mandated.

    The regulations have generally made it difficult to impossible to have a low/sharp nose on cars in Europe now. So if you don’t like the huge schnoz with ugly grille (like Audi) too bad. This has singlehandedly led to worse auto styling and a reduction in visual differentiation between cars.

    1. unlucky says:

      I should clarify what I meant. It’s not unique or even novel, but it is a good feature and it’s good Tesla implemented.

      I’m a little surprised they had to since usually it is done to keep the pedestrian from contacting the solid engine block right under the hood and Tesla doesn’t have that situation. But I’m sure they know what they are doing in choosing to do this.

  2. Bob says:

    Only Tesla do NOT in US

    1. Pushmi-Pullyu says:

      I was wondering about that; wondering if this is a Tesla feature that exists only in cars sold in Europe. Do you know this for a fact, and if so, what is the source of that info?

    2. sveno says:

      Because Americans are actually cars that integrated humans after WW2. In Europe you can see those mammals without their shell too.

  3. Unplugged says:

    “…which put our own former contributor, Mike Anthony, in front of a moving Model S.”

    And you guys probably wondered why your “former” contributor doesn’t come around any more.

    1. Terawatt says:

      LOL! My thought exactly… It seems necessary to add a parenthesis there to explain he wasn’t killed in the experiment.

  4. jim stack says:

    Avoiding the pedestrian would of course be much better and safer. The Self Driving should do that nicely.

  5. Foo says:

    Haha… I thought providing safety in an “active hood” referred to something else. Then I read the article.

  6. Kalle says:

    I dont think it is a tesla invention tho. II think volvo has had this system for atleast a decade?

    1. Terawatt says:

      And they demonstrated it when they were SUPPOSED to demonstrate the AEB…

  7. randomhuman says:

    Nothing special. Other car manufactures have that too.

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