Honda has filed a patent for a system that would reduce the risk of injury if one of its vehicles were to hit a pedestrian.
The patent is for a catcher system that would use netting to snatch up a pedestrian if they were hit by a car and prevent them from going underneath the vehicle. The netting would be mounted on the vehicle’s roof above the windshield, or elsewhere on the front of the vehicle. If the vehicle were to impact a pedestrian, the net would fire out and trap the pedestrian on the hood, preventing them from falling to the ground and being run over. The ends of the netting have magnets on them that would stick to the hood, ensuring the pedestrian doesn’t go anywhere once they’ve been caught.
This patent was filed with Japan’s patent office. Our patent expert somehow manages to successfully navigate the highly confusing website, but it’s unfortunately not possible to link directly to it. The illustrations in the gallery above provide a good idea of how such a system would work, however.
The design reminds us of another patent we dug up filed by Google’s autonomous ride-sharing service Waymo. That design was a bit more inventive, featuring a hood and bodywork made up of a series of tension members. The tension members, which would be a series of cables or springs, would loosen if the vehicle detected an imminent collision with a pedestrian, softening the impact. Conversely, the tension members would tighten up if an imminent collision with a vehicle was detected.
We can’t see a system such as Honda’s being implemented on a production vehicle. It seems as though it would be difficult to produce on a large scale and not relevant for all consumers. It may be good for rideshare vehicles or taxis that spend more time in the city and are more likely to be hit by a pedestrian, however. If the system works as designed, it could definitely save lives or reduce the risk of serious industry if the car were to hit a pedestrian.