Automotive safety technology seems to be developing more quickly than ever before. And the innovations are coming from some unlikely places. As just one example, consider the self-driving cars being developed by a team at Google. If and when they come into widespread use, fully autonomous vehicles could greatly reduce the frequency and severity of car crashes. Some even believe that traffic accidents could be eliminated altogether.
In the meantime, the big thinkers at Google seem to be coming up with other traffic safety inventions. Earlier this month, the company patented an idea for "pedestrian glue," which is a product/system designed to reduce injuries when pedestrians are struck by a car.
According to news sources, pedestrian glue would work a lot like flypaper. The body of a car would be covered in a very sticky substance (underneath a very thin non-sticky layer. If a pedestrian was struck by a car, the thin membrane would give way to the sticky layer, adhering the pedestrian to the car.
Why would this be beneficial? In a typical pedestrian accident, the victim could be struck a number of times: they get hit by the car, bounce to the ground may get hit by the car again (or another vehicle). Pedestrian glue would theoretically reduce injuries by preventing further impacts and slowing the pedestrian down gradually.
There is a potential added bonus that may not have been considered by creators of pedestrian glue. By sticking pedestrians to the vehicle that struck them, it would far more difficult for hit-and-run drivers to flee the scene of an accident. That would ensure that these dangerous drivers face the criminal and civil consequences of their actions.
Many patents never materialize into an actual product, so it's unclear if Google will choose to develop the idea further. Still, any innovation that could reduce the frequency or severity of car accidents is welcome news.