Google was awarded a new patent Tuesday that could add external airbags to the search giant's self-driving cars to keep nearby pedestrians safe.
The system in the new patent comes with external airbags and bumpers that deploy outwards when the car senses that it is about to crash into a pedestrian or another car, according to the International Business Times. While very few details about the system have been revealed, Google says the material is "visco-elastic."
The company's autonomous vehicle has been in development for several years, featuring a pod-like appearance and no traditional controls seen in your average car.
The patent suggests that airbags be mounted on the outside of cars in order to provide a cushion for pedestrians, Quartz reported. The filing added that people could suffer injuries from bouncing off traditional car bumpers and airbags and hitting the ground in a collision.
Details about the material are also vague, but it is expected to be the same material of ear plugs and memory foam.
The patent filing follows a study conducted earlier this year that found almost half of British adults don't want to be a passenger in a self-driving car, and that most felt this way because they were worried about the safety of other drivers, IBT reported. Over 40 percent of participants said they don't trust cars without drivers, and 16 percent were "horrified" by companies pushing the idea of self-driving cars so much.
There have so far only been two recorded incidents during Google's autonomous vehicle tests, but the company is looking to make sure its car has all the safety features needed to make drivers comfortable with the concept, Quartz reported.
Google joins other companies developing external airbags, such as Volvo, which has created airbags for its vehicles that can sense when a pedestrian is nearby.