The image that you see on these lines corresponds to a patent that Google asked the 25 of September 2013 and that the United States Patent Office just giving them. It represents a autonomous car with a front airbag deployed. However, and contrary to what we are accustomed to see in today’s vehicles, the airbag is on the outside of the car. The aim? Protect pedestrians.
As explained in the text of the patent, when the car sensors detect that a pedestrian is in immediate danger, the system automatically display external airbag on the protection of the vehicle. In this way, and in the event of abuse, the person would not be of face to face against the bumper front, but that the airbag dampen the blow.
Viscoelastic materials to avoid rebound
I know what many are thinking: would and bounce which can have if a car hit a pedestrian with a bag of air at high speed? The Google guys also have taken into account this and have proposed that the airbag itself is of viscoelastic material, What would happen to absorb the energy of the impact.
It is explained in the following diagram, where Figure 7 c illustrates the time just after the impact, and in Figure 7 d looks how viscoelastic material returns to its original shape take a minute later, as if it were a mattress. In fact, this is another advantage that point from Google: the airbags are single use. In the patent also proposed other structures, how to combine traditional air with these more elastic materials airbags.
It is not the first time that we hear talk of an airbag for pedestrians, but Google suggests something different from what he had seen so far. Volvo, for instance, furnished one of their models with a special airbag that lifts the hood and deploys a protection of air on the windshield. From Google to propose something similar, only that of other material and lower it to the defense to cushion the blow, but we have to remember that It is only a patent and this does not mean that their autonomous cars will be fitted with them at the end.