Google Patents Human Flypaper, looks to end pedestrian fatalities in car accidents

by Matt Klassen on May 20, 2016

Google patentIn an effort to avoid any potential pedestrian fatalities related to self-driving automobiles, it was revealed this week that Google has applied for a patent related to a “sticky” adhesive solution that would carry pedestrians along with the car in the event of an accident. Say what now? Yes, Google’s solution to solving car accidents involving pedestrians is to stick them to the front of the car, avoiding the added injury of the person being violently ejected when the vehicle subsequently brakes after a crash.

One of the biggest selling points for driverless vehicle technology is that it will greatly reduce instances of human error on the road, ultimately reducing the amount of fatal accidents on the road. But despite this claim the fact of the matter is that robots are prone to mistakes as well, and as we’ve already seen, accidents will still happen, so Google has started to think of ways to mitigate the damage of the crashes that will still invariably occur.

Now before you think this is way off in left field, there is actually some precedent already for crash technology involving pedestrians, as Volvo currently deploys an exterior airbag at the base of the windshield to help mitigate the severity of the impact between the pedestrian and the front portion of the vehicle, this patent is an extension of that line of thinking.

The patent reads:

“In the event of a collision between a vehicle and a pedestrian, injury to the pedestrian is often caused not only by the initial impact of the vehicle and the pedestrian, but also by the ensuing secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object.”

As the accompanying diagram shows, in the event of a vehicle striking a pedestrian, the protective layer positioned across the hood, front bumper, and around the side panels, will break apart, revealing a sticky material that effectively acts like human flypaper, effectively attaching the pedestrian to the hood.

“A similar technology featured on Volvo models deploys an airbag on the exterior of the vehicle at the base of the windshield meant to lessen the severity of the impact between the pedestrian’s head and any portion of the vehicle,” the patent continues. “However, [this] does little to mitigate the secondary impact a pedestrian may experience.”

While I can already envision problems associated with a pedestrian being partially stuck to a car and dragged along the road, perhaps even under the wheels, I will at least acknowledge that this is an interesting moonshot idea to solving a very real problem in our world, one that even with robots operating our cars, is still bound to happen.

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