I have mentioned ‘self-driving’ cars in a couple of previous posts.
Google, who has been working on the technology since 2009, just received a new patent last Tuesday for a special coating on the surface of the vehicle … a sticky substance that is being called “human fly paper”! When the car hits a pedestrian, the sticky coating would literally glue the victim to the car so they don’t fall under the wheels or fly onto the pavement. “The adhesive layer may be a very sticky material and operate in a manner similar to flypaper, or double-sided duct tape,” the patent reads. “The adhesion of the pedestrian to the vehicle may prevent the pedestrian from bouncing off.”
This sets up a number of images in my mind. I envision a busy city street, hundreds of cars, half of them with humans attached to the hood of the car, struggling to free themselves, rather like turtles stuck on their backs. Or what about the bank robber who is trying to outrun the police and hits a pedestrian. Is he really going to stop to try to free poor John Doe from his hood? Heck no … he will just keep on driving … what a wild ride for poor Mr. Doe! And consider this … at high speeds, wouldn’t Mr. Doe simply go flying out of his clothing? Then you have a driverless car speeding down the highway with a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt glued to its hood, and a naked person lying on the highway in only his shoes and socks! Ah, the things the mind can conjure!
Then there is the question of exactly how one removes the pedestrian from the car. Imagine, if you will, the 911 call:
Operator: What is the nature of your emergency?
Driver (of driverless car): Uh … there’s a person stuck on the hood of my car
Operator: Please repeat …
Driver: I … uh … hit a woman on East 16th Street, and … uh … she is glued to the front of my car
Operator: Sir, have you been drinking?
I suppose this also opens a whole new world for body shops. Instead of rubber mallets and Bondo, their tools will include industrial-size bottles of Goo-Gone!
Google and others admit that they still have some problems to iron out, and that the technology, as it stands at the moment, is not fully capable of avoiding collisions with such things as humans crossing busy streets. I may have mentioned before that I don’t think the world is quite yet ready for self-driving cars, but then humans driving cars doesn’t always work out all that well, either. All things being equal, however, I think I would rather see the innovators devote their efforts toward making the cars less likely to hit pedestrians than finding ways to glue them to the car on impact. Just my opinion.