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Boosting Pedestrian Safety: Will Google’s New “Sticky Layer” Do the Trick?

Safety advocates and lawmakers throughout Colorado and the rest of the country have been searching for ways to keep drivers and pedestrians alike safe on area roadways. We’ve heard a great deal about the various hi-tech inventions and gadgets that companies are introducing to consumers, and in more recent years, we’ve seen the introduction of self-driving automobiles.

Well, Google is taking things one step further with its self-driving vehicle. The company has patented a new technology that would improve pedestrian safety if an individual gets hit by a self-driving automobile (or a driver-operated vehicle). Sounds way too hi-tech, right? Let’s see how it’s intended to work.

The Sticky Layer

According to a story in the Mercury News, Google recently obtained a patent on what is described as a “sticky layer” that could be applied to automobiles to lower the injuries sustained if a self-driving automobile hits a pedestrian. More specifically, the description in the patent states that, “ideally, the adhesive coating on the front portion of the vehicle may be activated on contact and will be able to adhere to the pedestrian nearly instantaneously.”

What all this means for the pedestrian is that the sticky layer would serve to limit the pedestrian’s movement on the front portion of the automobile until the vehicle (or driver, if it’s not a self-driving vehicle) applies the brakes. Of course, Google notes that while the technology is geared toward self-driving automobiles, it could essentially be applied to other automobiles as well.

Nevertheless, Google did advise the Mercury News that although it holds the patent on the technology, it doesn’t necessarily mean the idea will see the light of day. Still, Google is being praised for thinking ahead, outside of the box, about the safety of others traveling outside of the automobile.

Google’s idea certainly is well-intentioned; however, one Stanford law school professor pointed out the fact that the technology could cause a number of unintended consequences.

For instance, what if the vehicle that has the sticky layer on it hits a pedestrian, who then becomes stuck to the front of the vehicle as intended, but the vehicle ultimately hits something else? The injuries incurred by the individual might actually be greater than what he or she would have sustained had the individual not been stuck to the vehicle.

Other Technologies Geared Toward Reducing Injuries

Previously, Jaguar and Volvo introduced technology that is also geared toward lessening pedestrian injuries. For instance, certain Jaguars in Europe can elevate the hood a few inches if there’s a collision with an individual, in an effort to soften or lessen the impact. Volvo’s V40 model actually has a pedestrian airbag that will inflate outside of the automobile at the bottom of the windshield if the vehicle collides with a pedestrian.

It remains to be seen what will come of Google’s “sticky layer.” But it is clear that more automakers are starting to think of safety from all angles, both inside and outside of automobiles. If you or someone you love has been hurt in an auto crash, help is available. Contact a Denver personal injury lawyer at Levine Law as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights and options.

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