Will 'sticky' driverless cars boost cyclist safety?

Jonathon Harker
Will 'sticky' driverless cars boost cyclist safety?

Google has filed a patent for a sticky layer, for its self-driving cars, designed to protect pedestrians in the event of an accident (as reported in The Guardian).  

Google said the patent was one of many it has filed which may never come to fruition in the real world, but if it does you can expect to see a sticky layer on the front of its driverless cars that will adhere to a pedestrian "nearly instantaneously" should one be struck. 

How does sticking a human to the front of a car help their safety? It is designed to avoid the possibility of a pedestrian being potentially carried along by the car, after being struck, and then bouncing off the vehicle. 

The article doesn't mention how the patent would potentially react in the eventuality of a car hitting a bicycle and its rider, though potentially there would be a safety benefit if the cyclist was struck by the front of the car and carried along, presumably. 

Driverless cars are something that UK road users are going to have to get used to. Yesterday's Queen's speech saw Her Majesty reveal government plans for the UK to be "in pole position" (The Telegraph) in the brave new driverless world, with a Modern Transport Bill to reduce the dreaded red tape and tackle insurance liability when there's no human driving a car.

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In theory, driverless cars can react to situations quicker than humans and will therefore reduce accidents and incidents on the road. Trials are ongoing in the UK. Renault's chief exec attracted controversy when he said cyclists..."don't respect any rules usually" - he was possibly irked by the conundrum of how driverless cars will react to cyclists, adding that driverless cars can be "confused" by bikes as they "from time-to-time behave like pedestrians and from time-to-time they behave like cars".    

Tesla's CEO has insisted driverless cars are a safety boon: "You can't have a person driving a two-ton death machine". 

PIC: Google's prototype driverless car (not including a sticky layer).  

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