VW foresees smart body panels

29 September 2005

VW yesterday hosted a conference at its Phaeton factory in Dresden to discuss the potential of MFC. Never heard of MFC? Well, it’s not KFC knock-off Mississippi Fried Chicken, but Macro Fibre Composites. Obviously.

According to Volkswagen, MFCs promise a revolution in industrial design. By embedding piezo-electric fibres in other materials, the firm hopes to make “adaptronic” components – or large-scale pieces of car that change their physical properties in response to electrical signals. As VW says:

Using adaptive systems it is possible to convert passive systems, such as structural body or running gear components, into active systems. This leads to structural components that can actively reduce vibration as required, thus enhancing comfort and safety. Examples of this are the active car roof, active cabriolet reinforcements and the active propshaft. Vibration-reduced windscreens are also conceivable.

Because piezo-electric materials create electricity when they are stressed, adaptronic components can also participate in two-way conversations, informing a central control unit about their physical state. For example, instead of placing numerous sensors around a vehicle to detect collisions, adaptronic panels could send their own signals at the instant of impact.

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