Technology innovation giant Apple has been awarded a US patent on a control system that can provide force to car door hinges to prevent a door from making contact with nearby objects.
When sensors detect a nearby object, the hinges can automatically apply force-feedback to prevent uncontrolled opening of the door.
The system — if widely available through the industry — could potentially reduce doorings by holding the door against the opening force of the driver or passenger if sensors detected a bike approaching from behind.
Such sensors already exist, however there has not previously been a sensor-activated force-feedback system to control doors at the hinge.
It is believed Apple may have developed the technology as part of its top secret work on autonomous vehicles, called Project Titan.
The work came to light in filings at the US Patent and Trademark Office.
The Apple patent indicates that the system would rely on a number of sensors that would monitor motion and position, as well as force, acceleration and proximity.
These could control motors that would apply force to stop, resist, or assist the movement of a door.
The door would know if the passenger had touched the handle, had opened the latch, and how fast the door was accelerating, and even if the vehicle was on an incline that could retard or speed up the door opening through the force of gravity.
An indicator would display to then passenger whether the door could be freely opened, or would be controlled.
Such an invention could be retained by Apple as an exclusive feature of any future car technologies it brings to the market, or it could license the patents to other manufacturers.