A closeup of the Escape liftgate. (Ford)
Ford is introducing a new kick-start sensor that lets owners open their rear liftgate without using their hands.

The technology will come as an option on the all-new Ford Escape, which is being introduced at the Los Angeles auto show later this month.

How does it work? When someone who has the car key in their pocket walks up to the vehicle, they can wave their foot under the bumper and the back liftgate opens. The same motion also closes the door.

"New Escape owners will be able to load their vehicle without ever having to take the key out of their pocket or purse," says Jason Sprawka, Escape brand manager.

Although it's programmed to sense specific motions, and won't activate if an animal runs under the car or if the vehicle hits bumps in the road, Ford has engineered in safety features to keep the door from closing on people. Parents unloading bags from the Escape could get accidental "help" from their children, who might wave their foot under the bumper. In that case, the door will close until it hits something, and then opens again. Much like the safety features on automatic garage doors.

The new Escape is set to go on sale in the spring. It is Ford's second best-selling vehicle, with 206,000 sold so far this year.

Video of Ford testing the technology on employees is below.

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