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BMW Reveals Anti-Scrape Technology

By raccars Published

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Among the amazing new automotive technology on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week is the holy grail of drivers everywhere: a car which is impossible to dent or scrape. The technology is on the way from BMW, which unveiled a working prototype, but claimed its commercial application is still about five years away.

BMW's new collision avoidance technology has been nicknamed 'smart bumper' and has been created to put an end to those low speed scrapes and dents that wreak havoc upon pristine car body panels in car parks and garages.

It works by using a series of laser sensors to create an electronic shield over the car at speeds slower than 10-15km per hour. If the car tries to get too close to an obstacle as sensed by the electronic shield, the system will automatically apply the brakes, so that the car cannot collide with anything.

A demonstration at the Las Vegas event saw testers attempt to enter a space which appeared to be big enough for an i3. However, the system kicked in each time the car was about to collide with something in the small space.

The system improves upon the current crop of ultrasonic sensors with four highly accurate lasers. These create a virtual map as the car drives, which can map and remember the location of obstacles. Having passed a wall in a car park, for example, the smart bumper technology will remember its location and prevent the car from hitting it, even when the wall moves into the driver's blind spot.

Other wonders of the Las Vegas CES include generosity on the part of Toyota, which has made its patents for hydrogen fuel technology available for free. As part of the development process of the firm's affordable hydrogen fuel cell vehicle, the Toyota Mirai, a number of patents were files, of which 5,700 have now been released for the use of anyone who wants them - including rival auto makers. Toyota has apparently chosen to do this to encourage the further development of hydrogen fuel cell technology - the Japanese firm already did the same with patents for its hybrid technology, although those were not free of charge. Toyota believes that the success of its Mirai model will depend upon an enthusiastic market for hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in the next few years, and that the release of its patents will help to open up that market. The firm is encouraging other hydrogen fuel cell developers to follow suit.

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