Cars are too big. Traffic would be better if cars were smaller, like bikes. We can easily reduce the length of cars. People like to be high up, as SUVs have shown. Put the engine under the cabin and do away with the bonnet.
Cars don’t need the engine hanging out the front there mainly as a crumple zone. Why carry round a crumple zone you’re not using? People also like to be safe, which is where this plan gets it’s incredible voodoo mojo from. instead of having an engine as your crumple zone, you have airbags. On the outside.
They’d have little sensors that would pop them if they saw a solid object approaching at high speed. I guess a technical problem arises here: The power of the airbag that can absorb a cars collision is enough to splatter a pedestrian. Smaller lighter airbags would have to be deployed for a pedestrian collision.
If this sounds pie in the sky, think about the incredible amounts of coin that are spent on road safety. And a quick google reveals that while I came up with this idea independently, so did Toyota. They’ve got a pedestrian saving device complete with radar and infra-red sensors under development in Japan as we speak. Mercedes has also installed an external airbag under the car, to add to braking power.
There’s a big push to include new pedestrian safety standards in Europe’s car crash ratings, which could make this a reality by 2012 !