• May 7, 2010
Once upon a time, in a history not that far removed from present day, automakers descended into design madness by equipping all of their vehicles with federally-mandated rubber bumpers wide enough for a Boeing to land. It was a dark time that eventually saw the svelte chrome bumpers of old banished for good. Now it looks like one MIT graduate would like to see similar technology come to small cars in the form of side bumpers.

Steve Shoap has patented a system that he believes will allow manufacturers to build lighter, safer small cars in an effort to increase fuel efficiency. His system involves incorporating substantial bumpers into a vehicle's side as well as a new "crumple box" that will help absorb and dissipate the energy from a side-impact collision.

Shoap's only prototype isn't exactly pretty, but he's confident the tech will allow the use of lighter-weight B-pillars and doors. If you're thinking those rods built into the side of the cardboard car above look like they'd up your chance of being impaled four-fold, don't worry, the inventor says that the bumpers would bend up and out of the way in the event of an accident. Color us skeptical.

[Soure: Autopia]


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  • 39 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      If they would bend up, how would the doors open?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cars in the U.S don't have pedestrian safety systems in them. The only reason the repair bill is so high on that GT-R is because that system activated. Now side bumpers would really f up the design of a car.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Aah! Love the Chrysler styling!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, "don't worry...the bumpers would bend up and out of the way in the event of an accident"...thus blocking the door and entirely impeding your ability to open it.

      Why would you be in such a hurry to get out of a car after an accident anyway?

      There's a fire in the backseat, you say? Who cares! Those side bumpers saved your life...right before they killed you by trapping you in your car. Don't worry, the firemen are coming. They're bringing the "jaws of life." They'll be here in 10-15 minutes. Just stay away from the smoke...and fire...and other cars in the road.
      • 4 Years Ago
      The invention is described in detail at

      www.safersmallcars.com
      • 4 Years Ago
      Like putting truck steps on your little sedan... pretty tacky looking :P

      Now... how about the fact that every car is at differing ride heights.. :P
        • 4 Years Ago
        I dig the duct tape color scheme though... that's right up there with the $120 matte black wrap job we saw last week lol...
      • 4 Years Ago
      • 4 Years Ago
      This model is a clear example of why engineers should never, ever, be allowed to be involved in the visual display process. Ever.

      This idea will fail based on the sole reason of the accompanying visuals; engineering merit or not.
      • 4 Years Ago
      So you're clueless AND fat.

      You also aren't smart enough to realize that more passenger seats can be added BEHIND the driver's.

      And this isnt about making the inside smaller, you idiot. It's about allowing the use of thinner doors and pillars without reducing safety.

      And cross section has a big impact on aerodynamics, if you don't know that it's just proof you dont know jack about engineering.
        • 4 Years Ago
        I'm guessing your comment was directed at me, not that I'm trying to be an attention whore or anything.

        Go take some pills and chill the fu_k out.

        Maybe go to Walmart and buy yourself a sense of humor. And buy a new pair of panties, as yours are currently all bunched up.
      • 4 Years Ago
      nerd fight! I love watching engineers aurgue... It cracks me up. You guys should head over to engtips.com.
      • 4 Years Ago
      Not only would those make my corolla look silly(er), but it wouldn't do squat against those small-penises idiots who have their super-sized, endowment-compensating trucks raised so that their bumper is at the roof line of my corolla!

      How about making all impact-reducing structures of cars uniform in height?
        • 4 Years Ago
        +1. having a bumper at ground level would do most cars no good. doesn't even need to be a lifted truck. these would just act as a ramp even for my subie.

        I wish law enforcement would actually enforce the laws about lifted trucks; I cringe every time I pull up next to one at a traffic light and their bumper is at the same level as my head.
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