Google was awarded a patent yesterday for airbag-like bumpers that might deploy on the outside of its forthcoming driverless cars in order to protect oncoming pedestrians.
And these aren’t just any airbags. The patent states that the bumpers could theoretically be comprised of either a “plurality of air sacs” that burst upon impact or a “visco-elastic material” frequently used to make memory foam mattresses.
While traditional bumpers help to protect vehicles in the event of a collision, the patent reads, “they are generally much too hard to provide cushioning to a pedestrian involved in a collision with a vehicle.”
If the idea of exterior airbags sounds a little curious, the patent was granted as automobile industry sage Elon Musk continues to affirm the safety of self-driving vehicles. “In the distant future,” Musk said at a recent tech conference, “legislators may outlaw driven cars because they’re too dangerous.”