And Now, The Auto-Braking Car Door – Forbes
Okay, so getting one’s car door dinged in a crowded parking lot is hardly the worst problem motorists face, but it sure can be a frustrating one.
With necessity being the mother of invention, a team of engineers from a German auto component company called Kiekert AG, in conjunction with students at Cologne’s Erzbischoefliche Liebfrauenschule business school, claims to have solved the dilemma with what is essentially an auto-braking system for car doors.
Called “i-protect,” it works similarly to the forward collision prevention systems being offered in many new cars and crossovers these days that will automatically slam on the brakes if the driver isn’t reacting quickly enough to avoid or lessen the effects of a crash.
Here, the system monitors proximity sensors and engages a mechanism whenever necessary to prevent doors from being inadvertently slammed into parked vehicles, garage walls or other obstructions as they’re being opened.
According to Dr. Karl Krause, Kiekert’s CEO, the technology could eliminate millions of irritating and often costly dings and dents and help reduce costly insurance claims. Not to mention helping to curb parking lot rage, or at the least, rude and threatening Post-It notes left on the windshield of a parked car that’s obviously taken a divot out of an adjoining car door.
The invention took top honors in a recent “business@school” competition for high-school students sponsored by the Boston Consulting Group. Kiekert says the student group will retain patent rights to the technology as part of its partnership with the company.
It sounds like a solid idea, though we expect a premium price tag may limit the hardware to high-end luxury cars, some of which already offer so-called soft-close systems that automatically pull a car door closed. And we can’t help but wonder what might happen if a driver parks so closely to another vehicle that the system subsequently wont let him or her open the door widely enough to squeeze out of the vehicle.