We never knew that European engineers were in the Miss Cleo business, but it seems so with a new safety technology being developed. This system is pretty simple to explain, really. Radar sensors mounted throughout the car watch for potential crashes. If it senses a crash, 230 milliseconds prior to impact it will deploy a brace-bar to help transfer the energy over a wider area and lessen the damage. On a side-impact test the bar was able to reduce the crash damage by 10 centimeters, which could equal one life. The one question does remain: why not always have the bar intact?
Design constraints, like the need to lower the door window, mean car frames cannot be built with the beam already in place. Like airbags, once activated, the brace would need a trip to the workshop to be reset, but the team are working on making the brace retractable.