Putting airbags on cars isn’t exactly a new concept, but Google has patented a niche way of employing the technology for its driverless vehicles.
The search engine giant has cooked up a way of padding the exterior of a car to assuage consumer concerns over autonomous automobiles (via Quartz).
The patent is titled as ‘system for pedestrian leg protection in vehicle impact’, a goal that Google hopes to achieve by air-bagging the bumpers of its driverless cars.
This network of padding is described as ‘a plurality of air sacs’, which would hopefully mitigate damage caused to humans in the event of a collision.
As one would expect, an impact triggers the airbags to inflate or ‘stretch’, cushioning the pedestrian against the oncoming vehicle.
Unlike conventional airbags however, these particular ‘sacs’ are also designed to pop upon impact. This reduces spring back of the bumper against the pedestrian.
One of the chief concerns regarding driverless vehicle technology is that there needs to be clear ways of protecting human life in the event of a malfunction.
The cars already have a host of safety measures, not least an arsenal of sensors that can trigger emergency stops should danger be imminent.
Whether this airbag bumper system will be enough to stop fatal accidents remains to be seen, but it’s certainly a step in the right direction, albeit an odd one.