Called "Deployable passenger enclosure", the patent describes a technology that’s exactly what the title suggests: a passenger enclosure supposed to protect us from every single angle when a collision occurs.
So, in theory, while the airbags installed in the car can help protect the passengers, what this enclosure does is “hug” them in an attempt to make sure no injuries are suffered. “In some embodiment, the system may further comprise the vehicle and a second seat,” the patent reads.
“A second portion of the airbag system may be incorporated into the second seat. The second seat may be oriented towards the seat in the vehicle. The second portion and the first portion may be configured to form a partial enclosure around the seat when the airbag system has been deployed in order to reduce the likelihood of injury to the passenger when the passenger is in the seat,” Waymo explains in the patent documents.
The drawings included in the listing, which you can check out in the photo gallery above, provide a closer look at how the airbag is supposed to work, explaining how the enclosure would be formed in case of a collision.
Needless to say, the system is still in the patent stage, and this means Waymo’s idea is yet to reach the mass production stage. The patent was filed in June 2018 and was granted in December this year, according to official USPTO records.