We all know about Google’s self-driving cars which the company touts as being really safe and terrific at not crashing into things.
There remains however the possibility that crashes will happen and Google has shown its willingness to admit this possibility by patenting a sticky car hood which basically should work like human flypaper.
Last week Tuesday, the company was awarded the patent which proposes to place a strong adhesive on the hood of its autonomous cars. In essence, any person who happens to be struck by the self-driving cars would be protected from what is known as ‘secondary impact’.
Secondary impact refers to the part of a crash when a person is thrown back off the moving vehicle, usually hitting the roof of the car, the hard surface of the street, or another car. It is undoubtedly the part of vehicular accidents that causes the most harm and increases injuries.
The company filed the patent back in 2014 and it is regarded as a temporary solution to keep the humans around the self-driving cars safe as autonomous technology improves;
“While such systems are being developed, it must be acknowledged that, on occasion, collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian still occur. Such safety mechanisms may become unnecessary as accident-avoidance technology is being further developed, but at present it is desirable to provide vehicles with pedestrian safety mechanisms”.
According to the patent, the kind of glue google plans to use in making the sticky car hood is described as having some kind of “eggshell-like coating over the main adhesive layer. This is so the car does not drive about attracting and sticking insects and other small animals like actual flypaper. The idea of the patent does seem workable from a physics standpoint as it would in theory mean a single collision.
Another positive view of the sticky car hood this time in regular vehicles provided by Rebecca Thompson, head of public outreach for the American Physical Society to Quartz; is the reduction of hit and run incidents, since the victim will stick to the car hood anyway. She however raises some doubts to the idea stating that;
“With a pedestrian or cyclist stuck to the front of a car, the car might have trouble moving to safety—or it might drag the human’s legs or arms under the car, inflicting new injuries”
As fascinating as the idea seems, a Google rep told the Mercury News; “this doesn’t mean we’ll see the human flypaper idea come to life. It’s just another way that shows how Google is thinking about helping its robots to keep more humans alive on our streets”.