Google developing system to reduce severity of car crashes

Google developing system to reduce severity of car crashes
Computing giant and driverless-car pioneer Google is looking at ways to reduce the severity of car crashes.

It has submitted a patent in the US for a crumpling car bonnet that would reduce the effects of an impact between cars and pedestrians.

The patent looks at ways of withdrawing panels on the car to soften the impact.

The panels would also have sensors in them to judge the size of approaching objects, to decide what action to take in the event of a crash.

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Google has been at the forefront of self-drive technology with its Waymo vehicles - though some people have expressed their concerns about the possibility of collisions with pedestrians. This patent seems to go some way to trying to solve the problem.

The patent doesn’t just look at one system to reduce the impact, but suggests a number of ways the bodywork panels on a car could be moved during an accident.

These include ‘bumper’ sections on the wings that would be fixed using pins. These pins would be snapped by actuators on the car's chassis immediately prior to impact, pulling the panel back.

A second idea is to put hinges on panels to help pull them clear of any object that is hit by the car.

The submission to the US Patent Office claims these features would reduce the force of impact on the object and limit the “severity of injuries and/or damage to the object”.

It follows a patent submitted last year for a coating to be applied to cars that would stick people to the vehicle. This was aimed at preventing them being thrown onto hard road surfaces after a collision.

The submission stated: “The adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously.”

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The driverless cars contain a vast amount of safety technology to help prevent crashes in the first place. For example, the sensors can tell when a cyclist extends their arm to signal they are turning.

The cars are also programmed to stay out of other drivers’ blind spots, on how to respond at rail crossings, and on how to adjust their route if a lane is closed.

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