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Hella’s Body Panel Technology Alerts Drivers of Scratches and Dents

February 11, 2015
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For people who love their cars, there is probably nothing more infuriating than finding one’s vehicle dented or scratched. These people put in time and effort to keep their beloved rides in good shape and in pristine condition, only to have some person do some damage. These types of damages are inevitable, but at least car owners would soon be able to do something about the people responsible for them. This is thanks to the technology Hella is about to introduce.

Hella is a German supplier best known for automotive lighting and electronic systems, but it is currently working on something different. Hella’s new technology is called the Intelligent Damage Detection System (IDDS) and it was designed to allow cars to “feel,” or at least find out when any of the vehicle’s body panels gets dented, scratched or worse.

According to Kristian Döscher, the company’s head of marketing-original equipment, what the technology basically does is allow the vehicle’s outer shell to have a sense of touch. He noted that this is the first technology that allows diagnosis related to the outer shell. The diagnosis systems currently available are related solely to electronics.

So how does the IDDS make cars sensitive to damages? The system uses thin, piezoelectric sensors. The foil-like sensors are attached to the back side of body panels and linked to the vehicle’s existing sensors. According to Hella, the sensors can be glued to all different kinds of panels, so the system can work regardless of the material used for them (steel, aluminum, carbon fiber, etc).

IDDS functions with the help of an algorithm, which analyzes the electric signal derived from the pressure that the piezo-based sensors detect. Hella claims that the advanced algorithm can determine which panel is damaged and the extent of damage it sustained.

It is possible for car owners to know more about the damage. If the system is connected to the vehicle’s GPS, it can note even the time the damage occurred as well as the location where it occurred. If it is linked to the vehicle’s cameras, the cameras can take some pictures and possibly a snapshot of the person or vehicle responsible for the damage. Pictures would surely come in handy, especially when one has to deal with insurance companies.

Hella’s IDDS has already caught the attention of carmakers like BMW. The technology is coming sooner than later, but people still have to wait a couple of years to see it in production models. Hella said cars equipped with its sensitive panels will not reach the market until 2018.

Photo credit: Nick/ Flickr/ CC BY

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