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BMW opens up to haptic car doors

The doors that respond to surrounding dangers

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You may have been introduced to the world of electronic haptics by your smartphone’s virtual keypad, but now your car’s doors could soon begin giving you feedback about surrounding potential dangers.

Michael Graf, from car firm BMW, has – with a little help from researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) – designed a prototype car door that senses surrounding dangers, only allowing itself to be fully opened if the area’s clear of other cars, pedestrians and bikes.

Ultrasonic sensors are used to detect movement around the car, while accelerometers monitor attempts from those inside the car to get out.

However, a bar running through the centre of the door determines an opening restriction in relation to the distance of the potential danger.

For example, if another car is still some way off then the door will swing open freely. But if a fast-moving car’s nearby then the door will be harder to open for the passenger, reminding them that an obstacle’s nearby.

Michael Strolz, a researcher behind the technology at the TUM, told the New Scientist that the technology used in the prototype is mature enough for car factories to potentially begin pumping the doors out within 12 months.

BMW hasn’t decided if the technology will be implemented into its Beemers yet. ®

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