Google has been granted a patent for a sticky car bonnet that aims at minimizing injuries whenever their driverless car hits a person. The system called Gloogie is described in the patent as an adhesive layer positioned on the hood of the car that pedestrian stick to in the event of a collision.
The adhesive layer bonds the pedestrian to the vehicle so that he/she remains with the vehicle until it stops, preventing the normal occurrence of him/her being thrown from the point of collision. This prevents secondary impact between the pedestrian, the road surface, or any other object. The patent notes that many crash injuries are not caused by initial collision but occur due to the impact that throws the pedestrian from the car onto the ground.
Since the adhesive layer is sticky, driving with it on your vehicle is similar to double-sided duct tape or flypaper. This would usually mean that you would pick up dirt and bugs as well as the pedestrian. Google has described that it envisions an ‘eggshell’ covering that goes on top of the adhesive layer. It would break instantaneously in the event of a crash, revealing the adhesive layer below and bounding the pedestrian. This means that leaves bugs and avian deposits would not stick on the car.
Other manufacturers have also tried different mechanisms to prevent pedestrians from injuries during collisions. Jaguar designed a system that raises the hood of the car after an impact to provide a softer crumple zone for the passenger. Volvo also developed a hood that deploys airbags out of the bonnet.
Google’s system will most definitely help reduce injuries but in some instance, it might elevate them. Stanford School of Law professor and car expert Bryant Walker Smith notes that the effectiveness of the system would depend on the chaos of the situation. For instance, a pedestrian bond on the car might be trapped there, obscuring the viewer of the driver as they crash into another surface or vehicle.
Smith notes that despite this concern, Google still deserves praise for thinking of the safety of pedestrian other than drivers and passengers.