Ford will judge people by how they look for the safety of your paintwork.
Scraping the underside of your Ford Mustang's door on the roadside curb or bumping its outer skin against a wall could soon become a thing of the past, according to newly-patented technology from Ford, discovered by CarBuzz at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
Unlike the safe-exit warning systems that have recently entered the market or the movement-resistant safety door openings that Rolls-Royce recently patented, this automatic door control system is meant to protect the car itself against scrapes and dents.
According to the patent filing, a future Ford Mustang may be equipped with a plethora of sensors all around its exterior and on its suspension, with some multitasking to bring parking proximity sensors and image recognition software into the mix. Some of these could be the same sensors used in Ford's facial projection safety technology.
These sensors will be used to detect approaching passengers, visually gauge the prospective passenger's weight, and inspect the area surrounding the door that is being approached by the potential passenger. It will then consider the car's current ground clearance before deciding whether it would allow the door to open, how far it can open before hitting an obstacle, and whether there will be enough clearance for the door to close after the passenger has entered the vehicle and the suspension has compressed.
This power door operating system hinges heavily on image processing power because cameras will be mounted on each side of the vehicle. These cameras will typically be mounted on the B-pillar, as that's a central observation point that can cover both front and rear doors.
After detecting the approach of a prospective passenger, the system will capture images to estimate the passenger's weight based on their height, shoulder width, and hip width dimensions. Once this information is processed, the system will determine the current suspension compression and calculate how much further the springs will be compressed when a passenger of that estimated weight is seated in the vehicle.
At the same time, the cameras and proximity sensors will also scan the ground adjacent to the vehicle for possible obstacles, such as roadway curbs, walls, signposts, other cars, and the like. If any of these possible obstacles are deemed to be in the way of the door's opening arc, the system will point-blank refuse to open the door for entry. And, if the system predicts that the compressed suspension will lead to interference between the door and a curb or other obstacle, it will also keep the door closed.
It will simultaneously issue audible and visual warnings on the human-machine interface (HMI), such as the instrument cluster or infotainment screen, or even project an image on the vehicle's exterior or on the ground next to the vehicle, to inform the driver and passenger that the door could not be opened. It will then suggest a different door to use for entry, or instruct the driver to reposition the vehicle to allow sufficient clearance.
The system will also work in the reverse order, and will inhibit the door opening after coming to a stop in close proximity to any obstacle - sort of like safe exit assist. It won't turn into an all-out electronic nanny, though, because the system will calculate a feasible opening angle before the door will make contact with the obstacle, and limit the door travel to that angle.
The system will likely also remember the passenger's dimensions, and could possibly calculate whether said passenger would be able to squeeze through the resulting opening.
In short, this new system would prevent parking lot dings and damage to other vehicles through errant door-flinging from its passengers and give advance warning about possible obstructions in the door's path. It won't tell anybody else how much it thinks you weigh, though.
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