Google’s driverless car might have airbags on the outside to protect pedestrians



While Google would contend that their driverless vehicles are more safe than a human controlling the wheel, the public likely won’t allow a car of its type to take to the road without some added safety precautions. One of those precautions could be the inclusion of external airbags in the event that the car unfortunately finds itself in an accident.

A patent filed by the company details a system where airbags would be deployed in the event of a crash or coming in contact with a pedestrian. While this wouldn’t eliminate the risk of damage or injury, it could lessen the sting a lot more than if it were a direct head-on collision.

Volvo has already tested vehicles with external airbags before, but this patent suggests Google could use some sort of memory foam-like foundation behind the airbags to lessen the chance that it sends a pedestrian flying to the pavement in the event of being hit.

exterior airbags patent google

Visualizing such an accident with a driverless car might bring up some brutal images in your head, but it’s worth remembering that Google’s driverless cars will drive at moderate speeds instead of pushing up against the speed limit every chance it gets. A crash might still do some damage, but we doubt it’d be going fast enough to completely crush you.

It’s worth noting that Google’s driverless cars have only been involved a couple of accidents to date. The first accident wasn’t its fault — it was rear-ended by a carelesss driver. The other accident happened in manual drive mode at the hands of one of the testers.

Couple that clean track record with the various sensors the car will have to come to a complete stop before inadvertently hitting a vehicle or person, and you’ll probably find you’re more safe inside or around one of Google’s cars than anything driven on the road by your average human being. Still, Google doesn’t want to take any chances so we’d be surprised if they don’t go ahead with this idea.

[via QZ]

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

Samsung Galaxy S6 & S6 Edge prices for T-Mobile, AT&T, Verizon, Sprint & US Cellular

Previous article

Dallas Texans are the latest to get same-day delivery with Amazon Prime Now

Next article

You may also like


  1. I dont want front air bags!! Its just another way for the government to tap into my car to figure out all of my information and keep tabs on me!!

  2. Honestly….this should have been on cars from the start…always worried about the driver…what about the pedestrian?!?!?

    1. I just worry that he or she will scuff up the under carriage

      1. Wow.

        1. that was wrong, got my sarcastic pants on today! this is no joke tho, would the airbags deflect someone off of the car into something? I just see those airbag prank videos in my head when this goes off

          1. Wow.

          2. so how bout that weather today we are having?

          3. Lol..pretty sunny in Southern California

          4. haha same here in Florida! how bout those Cowboys?

  3. As a cyclist (and yes, I stop at red lights, even when it’s -5°F, because it’s the law and makes me more predictable to drivers and pedestrians), I approve of this development. I’d also love if all the cars were self driving, because then they’d be far more predictable!

    1. I’d like to thank you sir for stopping at red lights, I live in Denver and see far to many bicyclists blow right through red lights in front of cars.

  4. I can’t wait for driveless cars.. less accidents, less traffic jams, less pedestrian accidents… etc

    1. *driverless. completely agree. less aggravation for everyone! I hate driving to work most mornings

      1. Me too.. my morning commute isn’t too bad it’s on the way home which sucks. Maybe some day.. this will happen.

    2. Ditto. It’ll be awesome, ‘cept for the dozens of millions of low-skill drivers suddenly out of work.

  5. Whoa. Hadn’t even considered this as an option… until today.


  6. So they bounce off the airbag as it deploys flinging them another 20 feet or so back to the pavement dead on arrival for sure this is why a search engine company should not get into the car business. We already deal with folks necks snapped from inside airbag deployment now a vehicle traveling 30mph hits you with a air bag omg

    1. I love the part where you forgot to read the article.

  7. I see people throwing themselves at Google cars already, in an attempt to get them off the roads.

    1. Unlike cars driven by puny humans, driverless cars will have lots of sensor data and multiple camera angle recordings of exactly what happened when the clown on a bicycle threw himself in front of the car.

      1. Cant wait to see how the cops will question the car involved in a hit and stop run ?.

  8. I know I’m going to get all the internet hate for this, but seriously, I’m tired of hearing people cry about how cars need to do a better job sharing the road. Every time I go downtown, I see clowns on bicycles ignoring all traffic control. If I did this on a motorcycle, it’d be illegal, and I’m fairly certain it is on a bicycle too. If people want to come where cars live, follow the rules and be careful. It’s not like I’m driving down the sidewalk where people are walking, after all.

  9. That’s reassuring…

  10. External airbags? What a fantastic idea! I feel like all cars should implement some form of external airbag system, not just the soon-to-be and much safer driver-less cars.

    1. Maybe only cars driven driven by puny humans should have external air bags?

      Maybe no cars should have them. In the case of driverless cars it makes it seem less important to develop safe driverless cars. In the case of puny humans it makes it seem less important to drive safely.

      Things that make the cars themselves safer are a good idea. Within reason. External air bags may or may not fit into a ‘within reason’ definition. Nonetheless, cars, the roads, the sidewalks should have a level of safety that equals or exceeds what we have today. That said, accidents will inevitably happen. Even with the most extreme safety features, there will eventually be bad outcomes. We should not pretend that we can magically fix every possible bad outcome. There is a balance to be struck.

      Nonetheless, Google is making the world better. Examples:
      1. Driverless cars free the front seat passenger from the annoying task of having to hold the steering wheel while the driver texts or updates facebook.
      2. Google bought Boston Dynamics in order to help make robots be more like humans.
      3. Google created Glass in order to help humans to be more like robots.

  11. I personally am looking forward to the day I can get into a driverless car and enjoy reading PHANDROID on the way in to work :) But lets face it, a driverless car is not going to get very far with kids and adults just stepping out in front of them knowing the car will definitely stop, to cross the road or even just for the fun of it. Are you going to get out of the car to move that group of thugs that are preventing your car from moving ? At least when a human is driving the pedestrian is a little less likely to attempt such a thing.

  12. LoL!! I was wondering about that. I was like, the air bag isn’t going to do much except propel the person it hits.

    1. If think this is funny wait till the cops starting questioning them if and when they get involved in a hit and stop run ?.

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in News