This is undoubtedly Google's weirdest patent.
Earlier this week, on May 17th, a patent was granted to Google for a new "sticky" technology that would protect pedestrians if they ever get hit by autonomous cars.
So, what is this technology and how does it work?
A sticky adhesive layer goes on the front end of a vehicle. It is placed there to reduce damage in the case of a person getting hit by a car and being flung into other vehicles or scenery (see image). The person hit would stick to the car's hood!
According to the patent description, this adhesive coating will be activated on contact and will be able to, "adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously." Google also hopes this adhesive layer will allow the vehicle and pedestrian to come to a more gradual and safe stop.
While the patent is aimed at self-driving cars it can be used on almost any vehicle. This is not the first time a company has taken steps to protect pedestrians from impact.
Citroen and Jaguar use devices that raise the car's bonnet to provide a cushion for impact. Land Rover and Volvo have developed airbags that deploy on impact to reduce injury. However, the patent observes that “existing technology found in production vehicles does little to mitigate the secondary impact a pedestrian may experience.”
You may be asking why Google needs this patent when the self-driving cars are supposedly very safe. While these cars can see everything that's going on around them in a 360 degree angle, humans cannot. In fact humans, not the cars, have been to blame for the small handful of accidents the cars have been in.
It has not been confirmed whether Google plans to install this new technology in their self-driving cars or not. But one thing is for sure. The company is in a sticky situation, and for once that's a good thing.