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Kiekert's NuEntry side door latch eliminates the need for door handles, so outdoor touch sensors, smartphones or other interfaces are possible. (Kiekert image)

Kiekert unveils automatic-door tech for autonomous vehicles

A new electronic side door latch is the prelude to vehicle side doors that automatically open and close on command.

“Our endgame is about providing a system in which the side doors automatically open when an autonomously-driven car arrives for passengers," said Hector Verde, Director of Product Development for the Americas at Kiekert. Those doors would also close automatically after the occupants are in the vehicle. All this could happen with just the push of a button or sensor recognition, he added.

Kiekert recently unveiled its NuEntry latch which uses two actuation chains, with a pawl that lifts via an electric motor. The latch is always mechanically locked. Under normal operating conditions, the latch is released electronically. If the power supply is lost due to a vehicle crash or other incident, the latch mechanically unlocks.

This temporary crash redundancy means the e-latch system doesn’t require a dedicated power storage unit or standalone electronics, Verde told Automotive Engineering.

Pairing NuEntry with Kiekert’s i-move (an electrical actuator system currently under development) and i-protect (a sensor-based system to control the door movement) is part of a three-prong technology strategy being launched by the company.

“When we integrate NuEntry with i-move, that allows the side door to unlatch, open to a specific door-check position, and close automatically,” explained Verde. “When you add-in the i-protect system, the door is prevented from opening, or it automatically stops moving, if a pole, pedestrian, bicyclist, or other obstacle is detected by sensors.”

Kiekert plans to retrofit its NuEntry, i-move and i-protect systems on demonstration vehicles in 2018. “We have a concept demonstration vehicle in Europe, but in a few months we’ll also have concept demonstration vehicles in North America and other regions,” said Mike Hietbrink, Global Sales Director and General Manager of Kiekert USA.

Verde expects that i-move and i-protect technologies will be production-ready in the 2020-2021 timeframe.

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