Being in a car crash has never been a good thing, but German researchers are working on a way to make it a little less dangerous. They are working on a car that will be able to anticipate accidents and subtly change its body shape to absorb the force of the crash. The system uses hood mounted cameras and radar to spot vehicles that are heading towards a side impact collision with your vehicle. When one is spotted, shape shifting metal in the door is activated. The bond between the door and the frame is normally a soft spot, but the technology reinforces that bond and distributes the force of the blow more evenly.
The researchers have focused on side impact collisions because of the effects of the accidents. The collisions are as common as front or rear impact crashes, but there are many more injuries caused by the side impact because there is much less crush zone on the side, and side airbags are less common and effective.
The scientists hope to have a fully integrated system on a car by next year. They will then start crash testing by 2008.