posted 3 months ago

Glue Pedestrians To Cars After Crashes, Google Says

Google sticky bonnet patent explained; its pros and cons; plus other, current, pedestrian protection, systems.

Google strives to minimise risk to pedestrians

Google “flypaper” sticks pedestrians to self-driving vehicles following a collision to minimise the risk of further injury, according to a new patent. As things stand, a victim might initially be hurt by the vehicle itself. He/she might then be thrown to the ground or into the path of traffic, and hurt further. 

Flypaper covers the bonnet, bumper and wings and incorporates a strong, fast acting, glue. It is covered by a protective coat to prevent the car having a permanently sticky texture. As the pedestrian hits the protective coat, it smashes to reveal the glue. 

Google flypaper

Questions and concerns

This raises a number of questions. What if the pedestrian is upside down, for example? The front of the legs might be stuck to the bonnet, the torso folded over the wing which – presumably – leaves the head and arms close to a wheel and/or rubbing along the ground.

That is a world away from the victim sitting on the bonnet with head, arms and legs comparatively clear of hazards. But even this scenario has its issues. Most notably, the driver – who might be in shock – has an impeded view which could make a bad situation worse.

Google flypaper

There are more minor issues too. If a stone hits the front bumper would it stick? If so – and assuming it is later removed – does the glue remain sticky long term? This would attract dirt, of course. And can the protective cover be repaired without leaving a blemish?

Furthermore, might the adhesive become less effective as the car enters its dotage? Few components improve with age, after all. It would also have to cope with burning heat in summer and extreme cold in winter. Could such factors adversely change its viscosity?

Google flypaper

Google flypaper might, or might not, become reality

Whereas Google self-driving cars exist and look set to become popular, there is no guarantee flypaper will evolve beyond a concept. A spokesman said: “We hold patents on a variety of ideas. Some of those ideas mature into real products and services, some do not.” 

Volvo pedestrian airbag

Other motor manufacturers have current, real world, products to protect pedestrians. The Volvo V40 has an exterior airbag, for example. At the moment of collision, the bonnet – which hinges at the front rather than the rear – opens slightly then a airbag emerges to cover the lower part of the windscreen, and its pillars. 

Jaguar active bonnet

The Jaguar F-TYPE bonnet minimise injury too. Should there be a collision, it lifts slightly close to the windscreen to form a softer, cushioned, surface which absorbs energy that might otherwise pass through the victim. It also increases the space between the victim and hard, non-absorbing, parts in the engine bay.