Google has secured a patent from the US Patent and Trademark Office for a system for pedestrian leg protection in vehicle impact for its driverless cars, which was filed on 25 September 2013.
The abstract of the patent 8,985,652 highlights a system for protecting a pedestrian during impact with a vehicle, the system having a bumper adapted for attachment to an end of the vehicle, wherein the bumper is comprised a plurality of air sacs.
According to the patent, vehicle bumpers are generally designed to absorb energy in order to prevent injury to the vehicle itself during a collision, but they are too hard to provide cushioning to a pedestrian during a collision.
In its patent filed earlier, Google proposed a system for protecting a pedestrian during impact with a vehicle, comprising a bumper adapted for attachment to an end of the vehicle.
The bumper consists of a visco-elastic material wherein it has a horizontal thickness that extends from the end of the vehicle.
For exterior bumpers, the company offered two ideas. In one embodiment, the bumper is formed of a structure that has multiple air sacs and could be small, medium or large.
The air sacs may be made from a polymer or elastic material and filled with air or other suitable gas and/or liquid and the design would be such to minimise or eliminate spring-back that may cause the pedestrian to suffer impact with the roadway or other object.
In another one, the bumper is formed of a visco-elastic material that absorbs impact energy.
As pointed out by the patent authors, the embodiments have been designed to provide protection to a pedestrian in a collision between a pedestrian and a vehicle travelling up to 25mph.