Google has filed a patent for pedestrian safety that would go with its self-driving cars. The technology is similar to flypaper in concept.
The company has patented a new car technology to help protect pedestrians if they are hit by a Google self-driving car. The patent granted on 17 May is a “sticky” layer built into the front end of the car.
Google says that until technology evolves to the point when all accidents can be avoided, robot cars can also hit people.
So how would this sticky technology work? The adhesive coating on the front end would be covered with an “eggshell” exterior that would break immediately in the event of an accident.
The sticky adhesive layer could be instantaneously activated when in contact with the person involved in the crash. This action would constrain the movement of the individual until the brakes are applied by the driver or the autonomous car. Thus, both the vehicle and the casualty come to a more gradual stop than in the case of a bounce off.
To remove the pedestrian stuck on the front of the car, explains the patent, a “releasable adhesive” would allow the person to be unstuck after some time has elapsed from the moment of the impact.
The patent is made specifically for Google’s self-driving cars, but it can also be utilized with any other vehicle.
Even though technology aimed at protecting pedestrians from impact is available, they do little to lessen the secondary impact a pedestrian might face.
For example, Citroen and Jaguar added a 6.5 centimeter raised bonnet to cushion a pedestrian’s impact with the solid engine, and Volvo and Land Rover have introduced outside airbags to protect pedestrians from injury.
Turning a car into a glue trap might create its very own problem; the car could crash into another vehicle with the pedestrian stuck on the car. That would be even far more devastating for the person involved in the accident than if they were thrown over the car or to the side.
But despite these concerns, Google should be applauded for thinking not only about drivers and passengers but about others outside the vehicle too. This patent should mature into a real product.
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