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# Parallelogram shaped cars for reduced collision damage

Make them slip
 (+6, -5) [vote for, against]

Most dangerous car collisions are head-to-head collisions. In a head-to-head collision, the total kinetic energy of both cars are used in a very short time to deform the cars and passengers inside.

What I propose is to make the shape of cars (looking from the top) like parallelograms instead of rectangles. The sides (doors) will be built still parallel to the road, but the bumpers will not be perpendicular to the road. They will be inclined (say 45 degrees for example).

So when two parallelogram shaped cars collide head-to-head, they will slip because of the inclined bumpers and collision damage will probably be less. Some of the energy will be spent to slide the car sideways, so the energy left for deformation will be less. Furthermore, if the angle of inclination is sufficient, the cars will slip completely and they wont have to drop their speeds down to zero (which means even less damage)

The same applies for head-to-rear collisions or collisions with stationary objects (ie. a tree)

The only type of collision which will make more damage may be head-to-side collisions which is not very common in dangerous speeds (highways) I believe.

The drawback of this design could be the difficulty of driving a parallelogram shaped car. And they wouldn't probably look very aesthetic due to their asymmetry. Solution to this problem may be, designing the outside still rectangular, but placing the motor block or other harder-than-can parts in an inclined fashion. (looking rectangular outside but parallelograms inside)

 — anyman, Jun 25 2008

A simple 2 car nose-to-tail would become a frustrating 3+ car prang, as the cars would 'slip' into adjacent lanes.
 — Texticle, Jun 25 2008

Ditto Texticle - and carnage ensues.
"Solution to this problem may be, designing the outside still rectangular, but placing the motor block or other harder-than-can parts in an inclined fashion. (looking rectangular outside but parallelograms inside)"
You have also killed your own design!. So just the engine block is one sided and doesn't fulfill your design criteria!
 — gnomethang, Jun 25 2008

my vote's for the hidden pointy design, but for a moment consider a car with a parabolic bumper... the other car hits it and transforms into a small ball of metal.
 — FlyingToaster, Jun 25 2008

how about a car shaped like a parallelogram looking from the *side*. The cars then stack on top of one another when they collide. At the very least, this will make the term 'pile up' more accurate.
 — xaviergisz, Jun 26 2008

I like it. If the Aesthetics is an issue, make it a pointy nose. As long as the cars are slightly off-centre you will have the same effect.
 — reap, Jun 26 2008

I suppose the slight downside to this idea or for any idea which proposes a pointy front-end for a car is that in side-impact accidents the car will scythe through the car it's hitting, impaling its occupants on the front.
 — hippo, Jun 26 2008

As half the world drives on one side of the road and half on the other, what happens when, for example, a UK registered car travels to France?
 — xenzag, Jun 26 2008

 "The drawback of this design ..."? The ONLY one????? I'm starting from the bases that a parallelogram is two dimensional, unlike your average car, that a rectangle IS a parallelogram, and that I've never seen a car (outside of the boxy 2-d sideviews of buses that small children draw) that could be remotely described as "rectangular".

I reckon there may be many eminently qualified people already working on making vehicles safer in crashes. Some of them may even know a smattering of rudimentary geometry.
 — Murdoch, Jun 26 2008

This is genius. Perhaps the parallelogramacity could be applied also to the side elevation, so that head-on collisions result in one car being thrown not only left (or right, depending) but also into the air, the lack of friction experienced in flight allowing the driver to spin around in a pleasingly balletic manner.
 — calum, Jun 26 2008

Most collisions are not head-on, side-on or nose-tail. Most occur at various angle in between, so any particular design would only work for one scenario. Also, the rigidity required for the idea to work would be far in excess of what is required for energy absorbtion.
 — Twizz, Jun 26 2008

"Ah, Mrs. Henstroker. I'm afraid your son was hit by one of those new parallelogram cars. If you'd like to visit him, he's in wards 3 and 8."
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 26 2008

I think this idea would be more fun if implemented for dodgems rather than real cars.
 — hippo, Jun 26 2008

 //a parallelogram is two dimensional, unlike your average car//

 Read inside the parantheses again: "looking from the top", in other words "Top-view".

 //a rectangle IS a parallelogram//

 But a parallelogram IS NOT a rectangle

 // I've never seen a car (outside of the boxy 2-d sideviews of buses that small children draw) that could be remotely described as "rectangular"//

 Try to look at them from the TOP, you'll see.

 //"Ah, Mrs. Henstroker. I'm afraid your son was hit by one of those new parallelogram cars. If you'd like to visit him, he's in wards 3 and 8."//

 ... Thanks to God that he was hit by a parallelogram car which punched him to the sidewalk instead of a rectangular car which would have taken him under the wheels. You might have been visiting him in the mortuary.. He was so lucky...

 //Most collisions are not head-on, side-on or nose-tail. Most occur at various angle in between, so any particular design would only work for one scenario. Also, the rigidity required for the idea to work would be far in excess of what is required for energy absorbtion.//

 Yes that's right. But airbags and safetybelts have killed people in some situations. The question is a calculation of probabilities.

But that rang another idea. How about "computer controlled variably inclinable bumpers"? Or simply call them "Aikido bumpers" :)
 — anyman, Jun 26 2008

 Anyman, cars aren't rectangular, even "from the top" - insisting they are doesn't make it so.

 I didn't say a parallelogram is a rectangle.

 I'm still certain that designing a car's safety based on what it looks like "from the top" is not really a great idea.

What does "The question is a calculation of probabilities"mean?
 — Murdoch, Jun 27 2008

Actually, from the top, cars are pretty damned rectangular.
 — MaxwellBuchanan, Jun 27 2008

 "Actually, from the top, cars are pretty damned rectangular."

Yeah- in much the same way as one's head is "pretty damned spherical" i.e for purposes related to science/mathematics/geometry etc etc, it's not. Not even slightly.
 — Murdoch, Jun 30 2008

This is true. Many HBers are reknowned for having pointed heads.
 — 8th of 7, Jun 30 2008

Mine's pretty damned, errrrrrm, bald and deviates from the completely spherical only very slightly around my ears, nose etc etc.
 — Murdoch, Jun 30 2008

mmm... how long before the chop shops started pimping up V-nose and W-nose jobs for the lads.
 — ConsulFlaminicus, Jun 30 2008

 I know that means something, but I'm so ancient and out of touch I'm danged if I know what.

I still say things are groovy and far out, man
 — Murdoch, Jun 30 2008

 //A simple 2 car nose-to-tail would become a frustrating 3+ car prang,//

 This is the killer objection, and the way to get round it (I mean, get *over* it) would involve the third dimension; if you want to keep the cars in the same lane of traffic where they hit each other, one will have to slide over the other, not off to the side.

Cars shaped more like Smarties (U.S. M&Ms) might do this, assuming that the leading edges of the two cars were not at *exactly* the same height.
 — pertinax, Jun 30 2008

Occupants of the lower car would of course be decapitated.
 — Texticle, Jul 04 2008

 — pertinax, Jul 04 2008

 I suggest we drive rubber cars, with a long pointy rubber or high-density foam "nose" that's tapered towards the front and extends slightly off-centre. In a collision situation, the 2-3 metre protrusion should a) guide the other vehicle away from a head-on collision, and b) provide some degree of encrumplage.

You could decorate them to look like camel or llama heads, frankfurters, carrots or anything else that exhibits a degree of sticky-out-ness.
 — zen_tom, Sep 15 2009

Giant catcher's mitt?
 — egbert, Sep 15 2009

Why are cars so wide? If the driver and all passengers were seated in-line, the entire vehicle could be made less than a yard wide. The front could be a wickedly pointy cone with a long spike needle on the front, making head on collissions almost impossible. And the sight of all those points whizzing past at 80mph will make pedestrians stay on the pavement in fear of their lives.
 — pocmloc, Sep 15 2009

Get a bike and get over it!.
Stability?
 — gnomethang, Sep 15 2009

 [poc] in recent news, Side collisions have more than quadrupled in both frequency and lethality since the length of cars was qaudrupled and their width cut in one/quarter.

/_/_/_/_/_/_/ Six car pileup.
 — Sparkyplugclean, Sep 15 2009

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