Google's Waymo company wants to make soft autonomous cars

A patent describes cars that soften before impact

For the past few years, automotive companies have looked for ways to make cars crashes more survivable for pedestrians, and an idea by Google's Waymo company might be the most inventive yet. First spotted by Quartz, a patent from Waymo describes bodywork that can become softer just before contact with a pedestrian.

The patent described "tension members" that might be cables or rods, which can then tighten or loosen to reduce the rigidity of the car. If these loose body panels hit a pedestrian, the extra movement they allow could absorb some of the energy involved, giving the human a better chance of survival.

"If it is determined that a bicyclist is about to strike the hood and front bumper of the vehicle, the tension may be reduced for the tension members associated with the hood and front bumper, so as to reduce the rigidity of those surfaces," the patent reads.

Interesting, the patent also adds that this system will be able to differentiate between pedestrians and cars. That way, it will only be triggered before crashing into a soft human, and not an equally tough metal car.

While the technology could work in pretty much any car, Waymo filed the patent specifically for autonomous cars, and there's a good reason for that. Driverless cars will be connected, which means they'll be great at avoiding each other - but without a driver, they might be less good at avoiding pedestrians.

It's easy for humans to predict the driving of other humans, but it might be harder for pedestrians to predict the driving of AI-controlled cars. That's what these new safety features are designed to counteract.

Featured Resources

The definitive guide to warehouse efficiency

Get your free guide to creating efficiencies in the warehouse

Free download

The total economic impact™ of Datto

Cost savings and business benefits of using Datto Integrated Solutions

Download now

Three-step guide to modern customer experience

Support the critical role CX plays in your business

Free download

Ransomware report

The global state of the channel

Download now

Recommended

Sonatus secures $35 billion to spur software-defined vehicles
Software

Sonatus secures $35 billion to spur software-defined vehicles

27 Jul 2021
Smart ships are coming
automation

Smart ships are coming

28 May 2021
Oculii raises $55 million for its AI-powered radar software
automation

Oculii raises $55 million for its AI-powered radar software

6 May 2021
ZF augments vehicle intelligence with next-gen AI supercomputer
automation

ZF augments vehicle intelligence with next-gen AI supercomputer

19 Apr 2021

Most Popular

What are the pros and cons of AI?
machine learning

What are the pros and cons of AI?

8 Sep 2021
Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant
video conferencing

Zoom: From pandemic upstart to hybrid work giant

14 Sep 2021
Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers
data breaches

Google takes down map showing homes of 111,000 Guntrader customers

2 Sep 2021