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Human flypaper could protect pedestrians from Google's self-driving cars

Posted May 21

MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — To prevent pedestrians from getting injured by its self-driving cars, Google has filed a patent for a creative fix: a super sticky layer that covers the front end of a vehicle.

The adhesive layer would essentially work like flypaper, catching pedestrians when they are hit by a car, according to the patent.

“Upon impact with a pedestrian, the coating is broken exposing the adhesive layer,” the patent reads. “The adhesive bonds the pedestrian to the vehicle so that the pedestrian remains with the vehicle until it stops and is not thrown from the vehicle, thereby preventing a secondary impact between the pedestrian and the road surface or other object.”

The patent was approved Tuesday after being filed back in 2014.

Since a sticky surface could attract dirt and bugs in addition to wayward humans, the adhesive layer will be covered by a thin “eggshell-like” material, according to the patent. The coating should break “nearly instantaneously” when it is impacted, causing people to stick to the car.

In the patent, Google acknowledged that even though they are working on accident-avoidance systems to eliminate collisions, auto-pedestrian accidents do still occur so they want to minimize injuries. The company currently has self-driving cars on the road in California, Texas, Washington and Arizona.

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