Google to Pioneer Airbags that Protect Pedestrians


My colleague Ray pointed out how safety features have gotten progressively better over the decades. Safety belts were one of the earliest innovations. They came out quite some time ago, and they represented the single biggest jump in vehicle driver and passenger safety than any other single device. Since then, we have had airbags become standard on vehicles, and cars have been designed to keep the passengers safe in the event of a crash with sturdy passenger cabins. More recently, safety features have focused on avoiding crashes in the first place. Technologies such as forward collision avoidance systems that use sensors to alert drivers when your car is getting too close to the car ahead and backup cameras are examples of this.

One common thread of most car safety innovations is that they have kept the people in the car safe. Backup cameras can also keep a person in a parking lot from being backed over when a driver is backing out of their parking space, so that is an example of one safety technology that helps people outside the car as well. Google is now raising the bar on protecting pedestrians. They have been awarded a patent on a design they submitted for a series of airbags on the outside of their new driverless cars that would deploy in the event an imminent collision is detected. Their deployment would cushion the impact for pedestrians or another car in an accident as well as presumably mitigating exterior damage to the outside of the driverless car. This is a rare safety feature that will be win-win for both the people in and around the car.

 

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