Hella’s smart panels will tell you when someone damages your car

Coming back to your car and finding that some moron has dented it and driven away is infuriating, especially since CCTV is often no help in identifying the car that did it. That’s why German company Hella is working on smart body panels to detect it as and when it happens.

The panels, called the Intelligent Damage Detection System, will contain a pressure-sensitive grid of foil-like sensors which works in tandem with a set of algorithms to detect when someone dents or scratches your car.

Knowing when it happened is all well and good, but what if the CCTV is being useless and you can’t identify the offending car? Well that’s just the best bit, the grid is capable of connecting with onboard cameras and GPS to capture evidence against the perpetrator and record where your car was at the time.

This is, of course, a double edged sword, and if you happen to cause an accident or dent someone else’s car then your car will have recorded the whole thing. I’m not saying you would normally drive away, but having this data recorded automatically could allow your insurance company to increase your premiums as and when these accidents happen. Similarly if you’ve rented a car you could arrive back at the returns desk to find a bunch of extra charges waiting for you.

Hella is apparently attracting interest from the likes of BMW, but sadly doesn’t expect the smart panels to start shipping with cars until 2018. Still having these in cars can only be a good thing, especially if it gets people to drive a little bit more carefully on the roads.

Image credit: Dean Thorpe, Flickr

Tom Pritchard