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Powered bumpers defend your smart car when all else fails


Smart cars are all well and good until you start to think of the horrible consequences if something should go wrong. Honestly, we're willing to take that risk just for the rewards of cruising along in a robotic car "platoon": saving gas, skipping traffic and perhaps getting in a bit of Gears of War while we're at it. Luckily, more judicious minds than ours are hard at work at the problem, and just might've discovered a way to keep smart car-filled roads from becoming riddled with the bodies of overly-optimistic bloggers. Alasdair Renfrew of Manchester University, UK, along with a couple of colleagues, has devised an extendable fender that can keep you safe and humming along the freeway, even when traditional wireless communications fail. The smart cars will traditionally be communicating with each other and roadside beacons wirelessly, and if one of those elements breaks down, the cars bust out powered bumpers to feel the car in front and navigate accordingly. That way, as long as the front car of a pack keeps to the speed limit and in its lane, the group should be fine -- and your Xbox session needn't be interrupted.

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