Google Cars: Flypaper Coated?

A patent application describes adhesive coating for reducing injuries in pedestrian accidents.

This just in from the Didn't See That One Coming desk: Google is planning to attach human flypaper to its self-driving cars.

Well, maybe. According to a genuinely weird report at Silicon Valley newspaper the Mercury News, Google received approval on a peculiar patent this week. It describes a technique for reducing injuries to pedestrians by coating autonomous cars with an adhesive surfacing.

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The idea being, if and when a robotic car accidentally strikes a pedestrian, said pedestrian will stick to the car - rather than bounce off or roll underneath, causing further injuries. Wow, these Google designers really do think of everything.

"The front region of the vehicle may be coated with a specialized adhesive that adheres to a pedestrian, and thus holds the pedestrian on the vehicle in the unfortunate event that the front of the vehicle comes into contact with the pedestrian," the patent reads, according to the Mercury News report. "The adhesion of the pedestrian to the vehicle may prevent the pedestrian from bouncing off."

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Evidently, the adhesive surface would be covered by an eggshell-type coating designed to break apart upon impact. That way, random detritus wouldn't stick to self-driving Google cars rolling about, but any sort of crash would expose the layer of glue underneath.

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It appears that other car companies are thinking about this issue, too. Volvo, for instance, is developing a "pedestrian air bag" that inflates along the base of the windshield, the Mercury News reports.

As for Google's flypaper solution, the obvious question is: What happens after the crash? No worries. The patent includes plans for a "releasable adhesive" that would allow the poor pedestrian to be unstuck "after a period of time."

Progress, there's just no stopping it.