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Latest Automotive Technology: Smart Body Panels Record Car Dents

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German company developing car panel sensors which track damaging incidents

Smart Body Panels Record Car Dents Nathan Walls Flickr

If this happens to your car in the future, you might have hope for finding the culprit!
Photo: Nathan Walls via Flickr

For all the “smart technology” we have which prevents damage to our cars on the road–everything from lane departure warnings to blind spot detection–it seems our vehicles are still left completely vulnerable when we leave them in the parking lot outside our destination. Isn’t it time someone started developing a way to solve the hit-and-run problem which leaves so many people feeling helpless when they park their cars?

It seems that time has come.

German auto parts supplier Hella KGaA Hueck & Co (commonly known as Hella) produces lighting and electronic systems for the automotive industry. The latest technology the company is developing is smart body panels for vehicles which monitor and track damage done to your car.

Smart Body Panels Alert Owner of Dents and Track Incidents

The smart body panels being developed by Hella are a foil-like, pressure-sensitive sheet of electronic sensors. When attached to a vehicle, a panel detects when your car is dented (either by your own doing or someone else’s), using a special algorithm.

While having such technology seems unnecessary (after all, we all can see when our car is dented, right?), the smart body panels are supposed to be connected to an onboard camera and GPS system to record the perpetrator that caused the damage. That way, you’ll have video evidence on your side after suffering a hit-and-run.

Certain luxury brands are already expressing interest in the technology, and if it’s successful, it could eventually become commonplace. But we’ll have to wait ’til at least 2018, since Hella reported its sensor technology won’t be ready for another three years.

The technology is sparking a lot of questions. Does the system continually run when the car is turned off? How is it powered? Will this information be automatically given to authorities and insurance companies? Will this technology be embedded in rental vehicles to monitor the condition of their vehicles on the road?

Personally, I think the benefits of smart body panels outweigh the risks and drawbacks. What do you think?

News Source: Time and Engadget

  • Tommy TaylorContributor

    Tommy Taylor is the General Manager at Atzenhoffer Chevrolet Cadillac Mazda Mitsubishi. Tommy is the great grandson of Ed Atzenhoffer (founder of the dealership), and joined the dealership in September 2003 after graduating from Texas Christian University. He worked throughout the dealership in various departments before becoming General Manager.