Google has patented what is essentially a flypaper that sticks pedestrians to a vehicle should they be hit by an autonomous car, according to a new report from The Verge. The tech giant sees the solution as a way to minimize crash injuries, which it says isn’t caused by the initial collision with the vehicle but when the pedestrian is thrown to ground after the impact.
The patent describes the solution as a layer of adhesive on the front of a vehicle that pedestrians will essentially stick to in the event of a collision with a vehicle. To prevent other objects from sticking to the adhesive, Google has placed a covering over it that will break in crash to so that it will allow the pedestrian to stick to it.
Google is the latest to develop a system aimed at reducing pedestrian injuries if a vehicle hits them and is doing so with self-driving cars in mind. Volvo developed a pedestrian airbag, which deploys out of the hood while Jaguar created a system that raised the car’s hood after a collision so that the pedestrian that was hit would get redirected to a softer crumple zone. Neither system, however, addresses the issue of pedestrians experiencing more serious injuries by being thrown off the car.
Bryant Walker Smith, a professor at Stanford School of Law and self-driving car expert, however, said to The Mercury News that Google’s adhesive solution could also create their own potential issues, including trapping the pedestrian and obscuring the driver’s view of what’s ahead of them, which could cause another accident. However, Smith continued by stating that Google should be praised for considering pedestrians’ safety. “The idea that cars should be safe for people other than the ones in them is the next generation of automotive safety,” said Smith. “I applaud anybody for thinking, as they should, about people outside of the vehicle.”
Click here for the full patent filing.