Oh, to be a fly on the wall at Google. Imagine the amazing ping pong games and impromptu office jam sessions you would witness. Chances are you would also catch a whiff of Google’s latest innovations, some in their primordial brainstorming phase. One such idea took one step further into reality when Google was awarded a patent for a strong adhesive automobile hood, designed to catch pedestrians that have been hit by cars before they reach the ground and are potentially run over. Is Google preparing to launch some sticky self driving cars?
The adhesive hood patent was filed in 2014 and awarded to Google earlier this week, though the company has no immediate plans to bring it to life. In the patent, Google frames its idea as a potential safeguard for self-driving cars as the technology is developed. “While such systems are being developed,” reads the patent, “it must be acknowledged that, on occasion, collisions between a vehicle and a pedestrian still occur Such safety mechanisms may become unnecessary as accident-avoidance technology is being further developed, but at present it is desirable to provide vehicles with pedestrian safety mechanisms.”
To avoid endlessly trapping small objects like actual insects and debris, Google’s automotive “fly paper” would be covered with an “eggshell” layer that breaks upon impact. As crazy it sounds, the idea may have some scientific merit. “Getting hit by a car once is much preferable to getting hit by a car and then the ground and then another car,” says Rebecca Thompson, head of public outreach for the American Physical Society. “Cyclists wear helmets not as much to prevent their head’s impact with the car as much as their head’s impact with the ground when they fall.” There are some drawbacks for the design, such as the potential for trapping a victim in a dangerous position on the hood. However, Thompson believes that such a design could decrease the number of hit-and-run incidents. After all, it’s hard to flee when a human fly is stuck to your vehicle.