back to article BMW opens up to haptic car doors

You may have been introduced to the world of electronic haptics by your smartphone’s virtual keypad, but now your car’s doors could soon begin giving you feedback about surrounding potential dangers. Michael Graf, from car firm BMW, has – with a little help from researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) – …


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  1. McFlurry
    Paris Hilton


    A door that stops itself being banged into other cars would be a nice application.

    She knows when not to bang...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beemers don't have doors...

    ... as the term refers to BMW bikes.

  3. JP Sistenich


    When the electronics board in the BMW fries, you can sit safely in your car, waiting for the repair man to turn up!

  4. Swee' Pea

    All Well and Good

    but can it detect a mugger in a dark parking lot?

  5. M7S


    Will it sense me far enough away to prevent the door being opened by some numpty as I'm filtering down lanes of stationary traffic on my motorcycle? Police advice is to do this at no more than 40mph. Its got to be a good detector to cover this one, but that aside its a good idea.

    Perhaps motorcycles can be fitted with a transmitter that warns all these doors not to open when the motorcycle is moving with a range of say 250 metres, not that would ever connect it to a manual over-ride switch for fun and games in the car park. Oh no.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    Good! BMW Drivers...

    ... need all the help they can get to prevent them being inconsiderate nobs. Maybe instead of haptic feedback, an electric shock might remind the beemer driver to have a look round before flinging their door open.

    Can the same tech be applied to their steering so they can't pull into the safe distance I leave between me and the car in front on the motorway causing me to have to slow down? And added to the cars other controls to prevent pulling out on me from junctions, tail-gating, leaving their main beam / fog lights on unnecessarily, not indicating at round-abouts etc, etc, etc...

  7. Daniel

    Great. Another thing to go wrong.

    Sentient doors.

    It is their pleasure to open for you, and their satisfaction to close again, with the knowledge of a job well done.

  8. Chris Bradshaw


    So when this door technology fails and detects an obstacle where none exists, I will probably be unable to open the doors to get out of the <CENSORED> car. Nanny state is not enough, I need a nanny car too??

    This reminds me of a friend in the US, whose central locking mechanism failed (this was >10 years ago). When he tried to lock the car, all the doors would lock/unlock/lock/unlock in quick succession for a few minutes until the car battery was dead. He was really rather pissed off about it at the time... :-)

  9. breakfast Silver badge

    Unremarkable compared with the glass

    I think BMW's most powerful production technology remains the glass used throughout their cars which filters out any traffic aside from BMWs from the driver's vision.

    I haven't actually heard it mentioned as a feature, but it's the only sane explanation I can find for the behaviour of BMW drivers.

  10. Jonathan Richards

    How does that work?

    > a bar running through the centre of the door determines an opening restriction in relation to the distance of the potential danger

    I was trying to imagine how this worked, in terms of the inertia of some bloody great lump of metal which moves relative to the hinge, and then I realized what it was on about.

    If there's a bike coming, the bar is opened (less of an opening restriction, you see), and you're tempted to stay and have a glass of something instead of knocking some geezer under an oncoming bus. Sortid!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What happens I wonder if you crash your car between 2 trees but there really close? even if the trees aren't touching the car doors are you going to be able to open them?

    Guess this has no benefit for the user of the new car doors its just for those that park near him. I'll get some bumper stickers printed off saying "you can safely park next to me really close I have haptic doors"

  12. DutchOven

    Nice idea

    I'd like to know what will happen if the cars batteries run down. Will you be able to open the doors at all? If not then it's a massive fail.

    I think a far more useful device would be one that used the dying remnants of battery life to send some kind of message to the owner (a light on the key could flash or something)

    Obviously, this is going to be great news for cyclists. Or it would be except for one glaring problem - people will get used to not having to look out for danger and then when they buy a car that isn't a BMW, they will end up whacking cyclists with it every time they get out (or simply losing the door to a passing bus..!)

    ps. How many thousand does this add to the cost of a car?

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Something more useful

    What BMWs really need is a sensor that detects sideways movement so that it turns on the indicators automatically. My initial thought was along the lines of some sort of helmet with senosrs to read the mind and intentions of the driver but then I realised how stupid this idea was.

    As for the danger sensors, most other cars already have them.

  14. Adam Starkey

    Technology that thinks for you...

    This'll be fun if ever one is unlucky enough to say, break down on a train track. You'd be mighty pissed if your car decides it really isn't a good idea for you to try and exit the vehicle right now on account of the 80 tonnes of 8:15 to Paddington baring down on you.

    I must be getting old. quite like the idea of doing my thinking for myself, and having technology just doing what I tell it to do

  15. Anonymous Coward


    I suggest a sweepstake: days from first sale to first attributable death.

    My money's on 42.


  16. Anonymous Coward

    Definition: Human (noun)

    A species entirely dependent on technology, incapable of using forethought and sight to avert potential danger...

    mines the one with the design of an arse-wiping robot on the back of a fag pack in the pocket

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ breakfast


    I've always assumed BMWs are bought on installment plans and every month a new piece is posted to the lucky driver. The indicator lights being the last part to arrive.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Oiky kids in the car park...

    ...will stand by the drivers door, pulling faces etc while the car dutifully prevents the driver from opening the door and giving them their deserved clip round the ear. Classic.

    /Paris cos she always checks her mirror before manoeuvring

  19. dr2chase

    Hazard warning...

    "You're sitting in a car. Get off your duff and get some exercise before your arteries seize up."

  20. Random Noise
    Paris Hilton

    If only

    If only the technology could let a certain heiress to a large hotel chain know when she's flashing some gash while exiting the car door. Think of all the money the paps would lose.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Swee' Pea

    Volvos can sense heartbeats of people nearby and sends to key upto 100m away. However, they cant tell of the intent to mug...

  22. Martin

    @AC 14:23, "Beemers"

    Hmm let's see, 99% of the population say "Beemer" refers to any product of BMW, 1% of the population says "Beemer" applies only to motorcycles.

    Result: "Beemer" refers to any product of BMW (usually cars).

  23. Anonymous Coward

    yup, that's what i want

    I car that won't let me out when the ex is trying to run me over. Sounds like a swell idea.

  24. BatCat


    Open the front off-side door please ALV.


    Open the front off-side door please ALV!




  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh great, just what BMW drivers need, another excuse.

    This is one of the few times that litigation society might actually stop a stupid idea. I'm sure BMW will get sued when the first person gets a door in the face.

    Sadly it also gives BMW drivers another excuse for being selfish twats though:

    "Of course I didn't look before I opened the door, the doors are magic!"

  26. Martin Silver badge

    Automatic brakes would be good

    And they could fix the system that detects an amber traffic light and causes BMWs to accelerate.

  27. Anonymous Coward

    reg "readers".. it gets worse every day..

    ok people - let's read the article yes?

    "the door will be harder to open"

    That's right - "harder". As in "more difficult". Not "impossible". FFS.

    And as for the battery running out and you not being able to open the door... *pause for effect, and a few deep breaths* - maybe.. JUST maybe.. power will be required to REDUCE the door movement. Not to ALLOW door movement.

    It's amazing what happens when you stop and think for a second isn't it?

    I know I really shouldn't let retards wind me up so much but sometime's it's not easy.

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Hmm let's see, 99% of the population say "Beemer" refers to any product of BMW, 1% of the population says "Beemer" applies only to motorcycles."

    And in the Netherlands, they all think it means "projector"...

    Anyway, to the knee-jerking posters - I think that it makes it HARDER to open the door, not IMPOSSIBLE. My guess is that it adds another 50% resistance or so, as if someone was pushing slightly on the door from the outside: Basically enough to make you say, "Hey, wait a minute" but not enough to stop you if you really want to open it.

    And like McFlurry says, a door that soft-stopped itself before clonking into shopping carts / trees / other doors as you opened it would be really nice.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Beemers , Bimma...

    Erm, no. Think thats just you! " Beemer/ Bimma " = "BMW" Zim Zimma....who got the keys .... As a great beenie man once said ;)

  30. Andy Bright

    Cunning Plan That Cannot Fail

    Version 1.0

    Satnavs will direct BMW owners to their deaths.

    Version 1.1

    However it came to my notice ( that there remained a possibility of escape should the BMW owner attempt to flee the vehicle while perched on the top of a cliff, railway crossing or seconds before submerging the vehicle in a handy river, lake, etc.

    Therefore doors will soon lock and remain closed as the vehicle approaches situations of extreme danger.

    I can see how the author mistakenly reached the conclusion that the doors would open. Indeed they will. But only if the vehicle is travelling at least 100mph within close proximity to other vehicles, preferably large trucks.

  31. Rob Moss
    Thumb Up

    In a crash? Underwater?

    Hey so in a crash, with all kinds of debris around the doors and the driver injured, will the doors open if there's a small stick leaning against the door?

    With a broken arm or rib, i would imagine a regular car door being particularly heavy, and with the extra force of the "safety" feature, it could be twice as heavy.. ouch..

    What about underwater, if the car goes off the side of a bridge? Will the doors detect that all that movement around is actually the water gushing around and should NOT resist the opening door?

    All good reasons to buy the new German Deathtrap-Mobile!

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    I'll just keep using my eyes...thanks

    Whats wrong with looking around and checking for any obstructions before opening the door? Why bother spending thousands for this crap 'safety' feature when I can just look before I open my door.

    Smacks of a solution looking for a problem if you ask me.

  33. Tim

    completely pointless invention?

    BMW doors never clonk into anything as there is ample room to open any car door when parked in a conveniently empty disabled space. There is also no need to open any doors when barreling down the hard shoulder past 3 miles of tailback.

    I would prefer a haptic indicator stalk, but i dont think that any bmw has ever been fitted with the indicator cost option (in my experience).

  34. Dominic Bradbury


    Is this an end to idiots slamming their doors into mine in car parks then?

  35. Fuzz

    Does it work in multi-storey car parks?

    You know, the ones where once you've parked your car you have to slither out in the tiny space left between your car and the concrete wall or the car next to you.

  36. Dave

    @Nearly Everyone so far

    Sure, looking for yourself is good, but exactly how much all-round visibility do you think the average car has, let alone the average sports car? Every car has blind spots, and beamers (note the correct spelling) are no exception.

    What I really want is a gadget that sorts out the problem of variable-width motor-bikes: the ones that only need about two feet of gap to go between lanes of moving traffic, but need two lanes to themselves if they actually bother to stop for the next set of traffic lights.

  37. James
    Thumb Up


    Sometimes I wonder. I think that people here read want they want to read rather than what is actually written on the page.

  38. DR


    what happens if you crash your car into a lake?

    that already messes with central locking trapping people into the car sometimes, and now you may not be able to open the door at all as some sensor will detect that there is a large mass (of water) very close (touching) the door...

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