(or what's the price of bones on the roads)
The existing tendency in car-building industry - a car crashed for the sake of scanty probability to save people's life in some situations - is an obvious deadlock because of structure strength, beyond which inevitable death lies. Somehow the car producers dig in the deadlock while the solution lies in opposite direction - the car is intact means people are safe. No laws of nature broken, no technical impracticability ever existed. A paradox?
Let's try to approach this
problem with simple arithmetic. A safe car, if it is comparable in price with
a usual one, holds out an explosive demand, that won't be satisfied in ten years
work at full capacity of all world car factories. That's clear without calculation.
But with the time, as the market is saturated, the demand can fall down lower
today's level because of greater longevity of cars. Provided the life in the
car is safe, the car itself shouldn't get considerably hurt. Consequently the
profits of car producers will somewhat get down. Isn't it here lies the
trouble of not understanding and inertness of car producers.
OK, what is good for car producers in today's situation? It is all too clear for understanding. It is clear, for example, that four hundred thousand of dead bodies is a loss of prospect customers. It is also clear that probably one third of survivals (four million) will have to buy a new car. It's not hard to calculate that ten times superiority can give car producers 15-20 thousand dollars pure profit on every dead body on the road. That's not less than eight billion a year. Isn't it God's send? Willy-nilly you will think which way to push the progress and which way slow down.
Well, what kind of thing can a safe car be? A very simple thing. Instead of crushable monolith a concealed spring. And a spring beat it as your can, tries to keep its form. So a Patent Department of Russia gave out two patents on solution that crowns the work in this direction in different countries. "Rossiiskaya Gazeta" several years ago wrote about it approximately like that: "A car of a usual form, weight, dimensions, getting a front impact at a speed of 100-150 km/h, having no damage hindering future use... If it is being squeezed from front and back with two tanks even in this case people in it stay safe". It can be added that even if the car falls down into the water, the people won't drown. If they do not want, of course.
All these wonders lie in the fact that the traditional monolith frame, which rigidly binds in reality functionally not connected parts of body (picture one). Front and back modules are connected with shock absorbers that can be parts of carrying structure. If we take away the salon, we have a giant spring that can absorb any front impact nearly without damages for the whole structure. At the impact the front and back (with an engine!?) modules begin moving towards each other, turning the car to an elastic spring and squeezing the salon with people out of possible damage zone (picture two). Then due to the energy accumulated at the impact everything goes back to it's place and you can go on (see the animation).
Another thing is that in the impact not the whole mass of the car takes part, but only the mass of it's front, and as a result the biggest part of impact energy is reduced smoothly. In other words, we can achieve the mass of the front part making not more than one fourth or fifth of the whole car mass. Then the new car will hit the oncoming car four or five times less than usual. Consequently, the oncoming car will get less damage.
If we take into consideration the length of the salon, we can realize that depending of the kind of a car we can set free the space from one to two meters long for elastic shock absorption (several centimeters of elastic absorption at the cost of a bumper in existing cars compared with that look ridiculous). Such length allows to reduce the impact of any force. Besides, the problem of back blows is solved automatically. As the impact is several times less than usual, there is no problem at all. The fatality of all accidents can go down by 70-80%.
Of course all these are only dreams, and the developers, as usual, will come across a lot of unpleasant surprises, but the cost of inactivity is too high to ignore the slightest possibility to save life. As the development of independent thought in car safety goes this way in different countries, it is interesting to note how the leading world car producers reacted to the proposition to take up developing new possibilities. Not so long ago is the example with PC, when well known IBM turned down its creators on the reason that it is not necessary and has low prospects. They say there exists the official letter from IBM to the authors.
With the safe car the case is none the less interesting and intriguing. No written traces speaking of position of companies on this problem. Well, some vague words passed orally via unresponsible persons.
A famous American company in the next two years is not going to change its conveyer. Why conveyer is hard to understand if the development of the idea will take up some three years.
Famous for its struggle for safety Swedish company privately via its technical specialists made it clear that they won't take up the problem.
Famous for their accurateness and obligingness in contacts the Germans slip away from any straight answers.
It is too clear. To answer "yes" means to endanger customary today's benefits (see above). To answer "no" means to ruin the advertised image and create ground for scandal. Only the Chinese variant is left - neither "yes", nor "no". No problems! The quantity of perished and disabled grows from year to year. Is it possible to conquer the situation?