Skoda has patented a new safety device that could, in theory, cut road deaths by a third.
The Czech car maker – which is part of the VW Group – has copyrighted plans for the world’s first illuminated seat belt buckle. It will operate as a reminder to drivers and passengers to fasten their belts when they enter a vehicle, as an addition to audible warning alerts that all modern cars have today to tell occupants to buckle up.
It comes as latest figures show that almost a third of the people who died in car crashes on Britain’s roads in 2018 were not wearing a seat belt.
While there is strong evidence for Skoda to create such a safety device, some vehicle patents pushed though in recent years are far more left field. We’ve listed a selection of them.
Buckle up: Skoda has confirmed it has submitted a patent for light-up seat belt fasteners in its cars
Skoda’s patent shows seat belt buckles fitted with multi-colour LEDs bulbs that display one of three colours.
When the ignition is on and there isn’t a passenger in the seat, the buckle glows shines white.
Weight sensors in the cushions detect when someone is sitting in the seat and the buckle will glow red to indicate the seat belt is not fastened.
If the passenger does secure the seat belt into the buckle, the LEDs turn green to indicate its successful engagement.
After a short period, the light then reverts back to white as to not distract the driver.
While the concept of a light-up seat belt buckle might seem ludicrous to some, drivers failing to wear their seat belt is a very real issue in Britain.
Weight sensors in the cushions detect when someone is sitting in the seat and the buckle will glow red to indicate the seat belt is not fastened. When buckled, the lights turn green
A report released in March this year showed that almost a third of the people who died in car crashes in 2018 were not wearing a seat belt.
A freedom of information request by PACTS, a charity that advises Parliament on transport safety, and the insurers Direct Line, revealed the proportion of road crash deaths where victims did not use a seat belt has jumped by a quarter to 31 per cent.
It said between 230 and 262 who died in vehicles on Britain’s roads that year were not wearing a seat belt.
That compares to 220 to 270 people who died as a result of drink driving and 177 who were killed because of speeding.
The PACTS report entitled ‘Seat Belts: A Time for Action’ cited a lack of deterrents, road safety policing funding cuts and a lack of education campaigns surrounding the issue as the cause of the rise in road fatalities.
Seat belt non-wearing results in as many fatalities as drink driving but only results in a fine
Not the craziest car patent we’ve ever seen…
Skoda’s buckle concept is one of a number of features devised, designed and engineered in-house by its ‘Simply Clever’ labs.
The Czech car company said it filed 94 individual patent applications last year, one of them being a flexible cargo snake that allows boxes, crates and other objects to be positioned more securely in the boot alongside luggage.
But these – along with the illuminating buckle – are far from the most bonkers examples we’ve seen in recent history.
Earlier this year, British students were awarded the James Dyson Award for an invention that can capture emissions produced by car tyres on the move.
The team — dubbed ‘The Tyre Collective’ — made a device that captures the air- and water-polluting dust at the source and is wrapped around part of the edge of a tyre.
It uses a combination of the aerodynamics of the spinning wheel and electrostatics to collect the dust, which become positively charged due to friction with the road.
This device won a Dyson award. It captures tyre emissions so they are not released into the atmosphere
Toyota issued patent in 2019 for an anti-theft device with a difference…
The system detects if a thief is trying to steal the motor. If that is the case, the fragrance dispenser sprays tear gas into the cabin
Just last year, Toyota patented an ingenious device to tackle the worrying rise in stolen motors.
The manufacturer copyrighted the design for a fragrance dispenser that, when the vehicle identifies it is being broken into, releases a toxic spray of tear gas into the cabin to immoblise the thief.
It was also reported in 2016 that Google had patented a contraption for its range of self-driving vehicles to improve road safety.
It submitting official drawings for its autonomous cars to have bonnets with a sticky coating so pedestrians or cyclists hit by the vehicles will be glued to the panel rather than sent flying through the air.
Google in 2016 submitted drawings for an adhesive bonnet panel. It was designed to protect pedestrians if they were hit by the firm’s autonomous vehicles but not flinging them into the road
On the slide: Volvo has submitted a selection of concept drawings to patent the design of a sliding steering wheel system
Swedish car company Volvo recently also patented a design for future driverless vehicles, with a system where the steering wheel and pedals can be moved across the inside of the car so users can take control from any of the seats when the vehicle is not in autonomous mode.
Other utterly mad car patents include Ford’s 2017 submission for in-boot conveyor belts to move shopping and other heavy items to the back of the luggage compartment.
And in 1998 there was an official submission in the US for a built-in toilet system with a ‘urine reservoir’ that’s connected to a unit in the glovebox of the vehicle.