Toyota may have figured out a way to retain the safety benefit of big A-pillars while improving visibility at the same time, with a cloaking device to make the pillars transparent.
Although big A-pillars make rollover safety better, it also makes visibility worse, and the cloaking device is meant to remedy the problem, according to The Drive.
A cloaking device might sound like an unsafe thing to use on a car, but the “apparatuses and methods for making an object appear transparent” that Toyota just patented could make cars safer by turning parts of them appear invisible.
Cleverly placed mirrors can bend light around an object making it visible from the other side, so the driver would be seeing around the pillars.
This usage of mirrors is a much cheaper option than adding cameras and screens all around to improve visibility, and also more realistic to be implemented in mass produced cars.
The patent was filed with the U.S. patent office by Toyota North America, so if Toyota does go forward with this technology, it would most probably be seen in cars in the US.
You can check out the patent for yourself here if you’re interested in the more technical aspects of how the device works.
If a big carmaker like Toyota can make invisible A-pillars affordable and viable for the mass market, it could have a big impact on safety and even save lives.