Automatic doors are not exactly the newest in terms of vehicle technology. As a matter of fact, most MPVs and minivans that utilize sliding doors are often automated. However, these automated doors are often only for the passengers and not for the one driving the vehicle. Plus, these automated sliding doors are also operated through a key fob or through the door handles. Tesla’s Model X electric luxury SUV features automated doors, too, for all of its five doors with just a push of the door handle, as well as sensors that stop it from hitting objects near it. Still, it is not what a PWD would consider as convenient to operate as it still needs to be operated via buttons and/or switches.
This is where Jaguar and Land Rover’s new innovation comes in. Through motion sensors dotted around the vehicle, the Range Rover Sport prototype’s doors can automatically open once it detects the presence of the driver and the key fob within their possession. Additionally, the doors can be opened using simple gestures.
Once inside the vehicle, occupants can close the door via a push of an overhead button, just like what one would find in any new Rolls-Royce. The only difference being that the technology is catered to help PWDs who primarily use cars as their main mode of transport. The infotainment system also displays which doors are still open, and it also allows drivers to operate all five doors that still need to be closed. The doors can also be programmed to close and lock as you walk away from the vehicle with the key fob in your possession.
Jaguar Land Rover is working with a gold medal-winning Invictus athlete to trial the system. Former Royal Marine Commando Mark Ormrod is Britain’s first triple amputee from the Afghanistan conflict.
“This innovative Jaguar Land Rover technology would be such a benefit to me and has real power to change lives for those who face problems getting in and out of the car. Opening and closing the car door may seem like such an insignificant task to many people but sometimes it’s the small, everyday obstacles which people take for granted that are most frustrating to overcome for those living with disabilities,” Mark said.
Jaguar Land Rover research engineers developed the system on a laboratory rig over six months before testing it on a Range Rover Sport. As well as helping disabled people, they also see the technology as relevant to all future vehicles.
“The mobility door is an exciting piece of technology that offers a real-world value to our customers. There’s also something very welcoming about the door opening on your approach – something we think will be greatly valued as we become more familiar with shared mobility,” Xu Zhou, Deep Learning Technical Research Manager at Jaguar Land Rover, said.