Sunday, June 23

External Airbags? Why Didn’t I Think Of That?

Google Driverless Car External Airbags

The race is on for tech companies like Google, Apple, and others to build their own driverless vehicle. Google has prototypes, and it is rumoured that Apple does as well. Safety has been a big concern when it comes to the self-driving vehicles, with many arguing that it isn’t safe. Google has set out to prove those critics wrong by creating a completely safe vehicle for both passengers, pedestrians, and bicyclists. How you may ask? By adding external airbags to the car.

It seems like an ingenious idea. Airbags have been standard of new cars, trucks, and SUV’s for many years now on the interior of the vehicles, why not on the exterior. Think how this could change driving as we know it today. With soft pillowy airbags on the exterior of the cars, it could cushion the accident and leave those involved less injured, if they are injured at all, saving thousands of lives.

It makes me wonder why companies haven’t done this before. How will this work for Google cars? A patent filed by Google outlines that the airbags will be inside the bumpers and will deploy if it senses an unavoidable collision. Since the patent is usually somewhat secret, the description of the materials that Google plans to use are described as visco-elastic or a material similar to memory foam.

The idea of using memory foam in their external airbag is so that it will cushion and absorb the impact without bouncing back and risk pushing the pedestrian back into the road. This concept could make car insurance a little cheaper on autonomous vehicles, and could help ease critics minds as to the safety of the driverless cars. It seems that Google will still have an uphill battle when it comes to convincing the masses that these cars are safe.

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