Car doors can be ungainly when they're being opened, smacking into things like garage walls, light posts, or the body panels of other cars. While some groups have developed side bumpers to minimize the damage, a group of German high school students has come up with an alternative – a system that stops the door from opening before it can hit anything.
Known as i-protect (and formerly as the Intelligent Door System), the technology was developed by a team from Cologne's Erzbischoefliche Liebfrauenschule.
Although little is currently available in the way of technical details, the basic idea is that the system utilizes sensors to detect when an opening door is about to strike an object. A "door braking" system is then activated, temporarily stopping the door before it can make contact.
i-protect recently won first place in the Boston Consulting Group's business@school entrepreneurial competition. It is now being commercially developed by German automotive closure system manufacturer Kiekert, which also supported the student team in the competition. The students will retain the patent rights to the technology.