Google recently acquired a US patent that suggests their new self-driving cars will have external airbags to protect pedestrians. The airbags would deploy when car sensors detected an immediate vehicle-pedestrian collision.
Unlike traditional airbags that push people away, Google’s airbags would cushion pedestrians with a memory foam-like substance. Traditional airbags send pedestrians flying causing injury or death. Google’s airbags are made with a “visco-elastic” material that would “hug” pedestrians instead of pushing them into the street.
Self-driving cars have driven 100,000 miles with two accidents. Both times, the self-driven cars were rear-ended while stopped at traffic lights.
2,400 British Columbian pedestrians were injured in car crashes between 2009 – 2014. According to Tech Radar, not everyone is convinced that handing over the keys to robot drivers is 100% safe, but Google reassuringly says, “Don’t worry, self-driving cars can be trusted on the road”.
The Volvo V40 is also equipped with external airbags. Their system is slightly different as it deploys the airbags to cover the windshield to reduce head injuries.