A 1911 New York Times article describes this "novel auto invention" that was intended to prevent vehicles from knocking down and crushing pedestrians. As the article explains, the "scissorlike fender" attached to the front of private vehicles and streetcars and scooped up errant pedestrians, bearing them along in a "sort of divan" until they could be safely deposited elsewhere. The inventor claimed that the device had been proven effective at vehicle speeds up to 60 mph, though I'm skeptical that any encounter with an object traveling so fast--no matter how cushy--would be comfortable for a pedestrian. (Of note: the article blames these crashes on the "careless pedestrian" who steps thoughlessly in front of moving vehicles. Hmm, sounds familiar.)
Researchers today continue to investigate solutions for decreasing the impact (sorry, bad pun) of pedestrian crashes. One solution is to create vehicles that can sense when they are hitting pedestrians and implement appropriate safety mechanisms. In this example, designed by Bosch, the vehicle automatically raises its front hood when it hits a pedestrian to help decrease pedestrian injury.