The most striking visual feature of the Tesla Model X also has a practical purpose.
In addition to the cool factor that falcon-wing doors give to any car, Tesla’s version also packs in some pretty neat technology. Thanks to in-built sensors, the doors read and react to objects around them, allowing them to open in tiny spaces, writes Peter Valdes-Dapena for Kern Golden Empire.
Tesla Model X’s double-hinged doors open even in tight spaces
The falcon-wing doors have hinges at the top, just like gullwing doors, but Tesla has added a second hinge that lets the doors fold like an elbow. This extra mobility means the doors open differently in different situations.
If you park with ample room on either side of the Model X, the doors will open up and out. But park in a tight space, and the sensors will be able to tell that something is nearby, bending the second hinge and pulling the lower part of the door almost vertically upwards.
Should you be parked in a low garage, the sensors will make the door raise as far as possible before the elbow folds out so that occupants have enough room to exit the Model X. The sensors bounce high-pitched soundwaves off of surfaces around the vehicle, feeding information back to the car.
Engineering marvel inspired by ballet
To preserve the looks of the car, sensors were placed inside the car. Tesla engineers made special sensors that were able to detect signals even from behind the aluminum body of the car.
This level of complexity is one reason why it took such a long time to get the Model X ready for production, said Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Passengers are protected from the doors as the sensors also see inside the car.
Instead of focusing on the science behind the doors, Musk made his engineers consider the elegance of the doors’ movements. In order to make them make an aesthetically pleasing door, he “had the engineers watch ballet.”
While the excitement around the Model X was enough to make 25,000 people order one before they had even seen it, plenty of buyers can’t have been expecting to find such technologically-advanced falcon-wing doors, or the bioweapons defense button on the dashboard.