Let’s just get one FACT out of the way: most drivers on the road are just not good drivers. But the Swedish safety-obsessed wonks over at Autoliv (who last set up a nighttime animal-detection system for extra-effective deer hunting and/or avoidance) have found a way around that, with this funky autonomous braking system.

Dubbed the “Torricelli brake” after the guy who invented the barometer, 17th century Italian physicist Evangelista Torricelli, it’s basically a giant vacuum attached to a metal plate on the underside of the car. Rigged up to the automatic braking system that you can find in a lot of cars on sale today (which use radar and ultrasonic waves to detect an obstacle in your path and hit the brakes for you because you’re probably too busy playing Candy Crush on your phone instead of, you know, driving), the Torricelli brake basically sucks you onto the road to provide a little extra oomph to your non-existent stopping skills.

Over 3,000 pounds of oomph, specifically.

Autoliv says that it can decrease braking distances up to 40% at speeds up to around 40 miles an hour on wet, dry, and icy surfaces.

Of course, because this is a prototype, there are some foreseen and unforeseen issues. The foreseen ones, suggested by Autoliv, include the fact that no manufacturer safety system is built to handle the RAW POWAHHH that is a vacuum-braking system. Which means that your seatbelts likely aren’t strong enough for the G-forces induced, and your spleen will try to escape through your nostrils, and which is why the system is currently limited to 70 kilometers an hour.


Left unanswered, however, is how this system would perform on rough or uneven roads, or what if it sucks up the rocks, pebbles, filth, and general hazardous waste that lines city streets. Or how many times you can use the system before you can replace it. Or how much it would cost to retrofit it to cars. Or how much the system weighs.

But! If it saves lives, then why not be all for it, at least on regular cars?

Anyways, it’s just a prototype. And these are the Swedes. I’m sure they’ll get there.


Contact the author at ballaban@jalopnik.com.
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