The autonomous car division of the Google company, named Waymo, has now registered a patent for a car that can change its structure automatically, it loses the rigid parts, such as the bumper and the bonnet, in case of a Collision impossible to avoid.
This concept is being dubbed a “soft car” by Google, however it does not involve new materials or chemical formulas in its construction. The main characteristic of this method, published earlier this month of August, are springs, cables and rods (which under normal circumstances are firm, thus keeping the shape of the car), capable of widening or detaching in the event of a collision. The goal is to reduce the impact strength in collisions. Ultimately, the car’s body collapses completely.
“The impact force is the main factor in the amount of damage caused by the vehicles. Therefore, it is desirable to create a vehicle capable of reducing the impact force experienced in the collision”, the patent states. The system also comes with technology that allows you to detect the type of collision (for example, a tree, light pole, pedestrian, car or cyclist) in order to measure the degree of response.
This is no longer the first time Google has come up with a proposal to protect pedestrians from collisions. Last year, the company filed a patent that consisted of a car with a sticky exterior (known as the “sticky model”) that protected pedestrians because they were stuck to the car in case of impact, rather than being projected onto the asphalt.
These Google proposals are intended to address some of the ethical issues associated with stand-alone cars, such as the car’s behavior in accidents that are impossible to avoid.
Safety (and the reduction of human failures) is one of the great attributes of autonomous cars. Since the year 2014, only 34 accidents involving self-employed cars have been registered in California, one of the states where the circulation of these cars is legal.
The company Google has been testing this technology since 2012 and although their cars have already been involved in a number of accidents, most have happened with vehicles with human drivers that stopped, unexpectedly, in front of autonomous cars.
Already an accident with the autopilot of Tesla, last year, has led to the death of the only occupant of the car. Although an investigation has concluded that the brand would not be held responsible, because the man should have kept his hands on the steering wheel.