Would making autonomous vehicles softer make them safer?
Alphabet’s self-driving car offshoot, Waymo, feels that may be the case as they were recently granted a patent for vehicles that soften on impact. Sensors would identify an impending collision and adjust ‘tension members’ on the vehicle’s exterior to cushion the blow. These ‘members’ would be corrugated sections or moving panels that absorb the impact alongside the crumpling effect of the vehicle, making adjustments based on the type of obstacle the vehicle is about to strike.
The new reality of self driving vehicles has had people anxious over safety concerns with good reason, as our own Elliot Williams points out — but any man vs. car standoff rarely favours the human side. In light of that, it would be nice to see this technology go the route of the three-point seat belt, becoming an industry standard.