Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Ford's Automatic Door Opening System

Looks like Ford is working on making making it easier for its customers to step into a Ford, literally. According to this patent application, Ford has developed a system where sensors in the car detect the presence of a key fob in the pocket of an approaching owner. Once the owner reached a pre-determined distance, the doors automatically unlock and a spring-loaded mechanism pops one or more doors open. Sounds like something a mom that often carries groceries and a two year old would appreciate. An image from the patent is reproduced below.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

BMW & GM Hybrid Driveline Patent Application

The joint research agreement between BMW, GM, Mercedes Benz and Chrysler is starting to pay dividends. This patent application addresses driveline lash in hybrid vehicles. In this case, the joint engineering cooperation may be more impressive than the actual invention. A diagram from the patent application is below.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Honda Rethinks Sportbike Engine Layout

Who says air intake has to be under the seat and exhaust outlets have to be in front of the engine? Not Honda, apparently. According to this patent application, Honda has found a way to tilt a motorcycle engine backwards in the frame and redirect the exhaust out of the back of the engine. Honda claims that this layout will lower the machine's center of gravity and thereby improve handling. Perhaps we will see this layout in the new Interceptor. Below are some images from the patent application.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

BMW's Virtual Hazard Detector

BMW has come up with a new level of technology for use in an automobile. According to this patent application, BMW is working on using laser and thermal imaging sensors to detect potential hazards in the road and alert the driver to those hazards by rendering a virtual image of the upcoming obstacle to the driver. Here's a quote from the patent application:

At least one laser scanner provided in the vehicle scans the surroundings in front of the vehicle and determines the shape of an object and the distance of the object from the vehicle. At least one infrared camera, in particular a thermal imaging camera, is provided on the vehicle. The infrared camera records the surroundings in front of the vehicle and makes available the real or virtual image of the surroundings for display to the driver. The object is compared with at least a first reference object within the scope of a first pattern recognition process. If there is significant correspondence between the object and the reference object, that area on the real or virtual image displayed to the driver in which the object is to be found is determined, and the respective area of the image and/or the respective object is highlighted in the image.

Looks like we are very quickly approaching the point where driving a car will become more like piloting an F16. Below is an image from the patent application showing how the system will work.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Suzuki Bringing Airbags to Scooters

Looks like the Honda Goldwing will not be the only motorcycle with a factory equipped airbag for long. According to this patent application, Suzuki has developed a way to install an airbag into a scooter type vehicle. Perhaps the cost of adding airbags to two wheeled vehicles is dropping. Some pictures from the patent application are below.