Google Has A Crazy Idea For Making Driverless Car Accidents Safer

Photo: Courtesy Google.
Driverless cars might be the transportation of the future, but there are still lots of issues to be solved before we can all have our own. One of those question marks is dealing with car accidents, specifically car and pedestrian accidents. But Google has proposed an out-there solution to the problem: flypaper. Well, not exactly flypaper, but the inspiration is evident in a patent that was approved this week. In the patent, Google shows designs for driverless cars with adhesive layers covering the front ends. A pedestrian who is hit by a car would, in effect, stick to the front of the vehicle, just as a fly sticks to flypaper. To keep real-life bugs and dirt from also gluing themselves to the front of the car, this sticky layer is covered by a protective coating that would break upon impact. How would this actually prevent injury? According to the patent, the pedestrian wouldn't be thrown to the ground post-collision, so this would prevent further injury from contact with the concrete (or potentially being run over).
Photo: Courtesy Google.
It's a crazy sounding idea, but it does have some logic, especially as more companies, Uber and Lyft included, begin experimenting with driverless cars on roadways. Thus far, the majority of the minor accidents that have occurred with prototypes have been caused by overly cautious robotic systems. Driverless cars are so strict about obeying laws that they can't go above the speed limit at appropriate times — such as when merging into a lane of traffic — and incur fender benders as a result. While most of the accidents that Google's driverless cars have been involved in were caused by human drivers, the company did make headlines earlier this year when one of its cars was at fault for the first time. No one was hurt when the car drove into a bus, but the accident fueled mistrust in an already apprehensive population. Do we really want to be on the road with robots? Who knows if Google will ever actually make good on this patent idea, but we'd certainly be curious to see if its I, Robot safety fix really works (with dummies, of course).

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