Autonomous vehicle company Nuro, which makes car-like autonomous vehicles that drive on roads to deliver pizza and groceries mainly in suburban-like settings, has unveiled a new vehicle model that the company says it is ready to mass produce and “is approximately 20 percent smaller in width than average passenger cars” which “gives bicyclists and pedestrians more room to maneuver alongside the bot.” However, should the bot crash into said cyclist or pedestrian, it has an additional feature: A giant external airbag.
“A custom external pedestrian airbag across the front of the bot is optimized to reduce the force of impact and number of injuries in the event of collision,” Nuro’s Medium post on the new robot says. The next sentence says the vehicle’s top speed is 45 miles per hour, a “low speed,” according to Nuro, which “reduces the severity of any potential impact” but also “allowing the vehicle to reach more customers and serve more businesses on a wider variety of roads.”
First of all, 45 miles per hour is not a “low speed” at which to get hit by a car. According to a 2011 AAA study , the risk of severe injury when hit by a car traveling at 42 miles per hour is 50 percent, and at 50 miles per hour the risk of severe injury is 75 percent.