• May 12, 2006
Researchers in Germany are developing a vehicle safety system that sounds like something straight out of science-fiction.

The door and frame connection of a car is a weak spot in side collisions. After detecting an impending impact via mounted cameras and radar sensors, the experimental German safety system sends out an electric charge to the shape-memory alloy on the door. The alloy expands from the heat, which serves to reinforce the door-frame bond. The researchers are currently testing prototypes and plan to start full test crashes with vehicles in 2008.

[Source: New Scientist Tech via Cars!Cars!Cars!]


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      How about just make the door frame bond strenghthened before rolling out of the factory.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sometimes collitions can't be avoided, and it's not certain that corrective action would get you out of a bad situation (if not into a worse one). Generally safety tech can be piled on and work in concert, but you have to test one thing at a time to get it right.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If the car can detect the impending collision, why not take corrective action of some sort instead of bolstering the area likely to be impacted?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Imagine the amount of time and money spent on this. The minds and monetary resources that created this could be put to use creating some pretty incredible technology to make our lives better. Instead, they are put to use compensating for poor drivers. That's just great.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Hey Mike, you need to learn a thing or two here...

      First of all, F1, Champcar, Les Mans Prototypes, etc are note tube frames, nore have they been for quite some time. They're monocoques. Much like the uni(t)body of modern passenger cars. The rigidity and strength come from the body itself. Tube frames aren’t really all that great either. Look at how many injuries NASCAR drivers used to get before they started implementing all the new safety equipment. The monocoques get their safety advantage not really completely form their rigidity, but because there’s a lot of stuff that breaks between the impact and the tub/driver cocoon. A passenger car simply does not, and cannot have that kind of impact absorption on the sides.

      Second of all, the problem is the big holes in that body. If you cut a hole in the side of an F1 car the same way your car has a door in it, you're pretty well screwed. Hence increasing amounts of reinforcement in doors and latch/striker and hinge areas. Take a look at the rocker panel on some modern cars, cross sections are getting bigger and bigger. There's only so much reinforcement you can add into the sheet metal before things get too big or too heavy.

      That said, I think an active safety system like this is a good idea. In the long run, you can probably save a lot of weight with it. It's just a matter of making it work and making it cost effective.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Corrective action" might move you out of the way of a motorcycle and into the way of a train.

      "Corrective action" would not work on icy roads, it's not like they use The Force, the wheels still need traction.

      Not think this through much?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Actually this would be compensating for poor safety design. How much better can "the minds and monetary resources" make your life if you're killed (i.e. no life to be bettered) by a side impact.
      • 8 Years Ago
      They should just install sensor-activated ejector seats and not tell anyone. Imagine the surprise!
      • 8 Years Ago
      Wow, what a cool concept! I wonder if it makes exiting the vehicle harder, after the crash, like if it's underwater, or on fire, or if you're bleeding/unconscious and someone's trying to extricate you?
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'd pay a little extra for "The Force," that'd be pretty safe. I just hope they'd ship it with an 'off' button.
      • 8 Years Ago
      "Imagine the amount of time and money spent on this. The minds and monetary resources that created this could be put to use creating some pretty incredible technology to make our lives better. Instead, they are put to use compensating for poor drivers. That's just great."

      Oh, so now you're apparantly somehow immune to car accidents. With your logic, you can go outside now and remove all those silly little devices from your car that might save your life. Seatbelts, airbags, ABS, traction control, the whole nine yards. I mean REALLY, who needs it when you're immortal, right?