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This Is How You Turn A Sliding Door Into an Intelligent STAR TREK Door

Give it better algorithms and scanners.

Currently, there are two basic obstacles that keep you from feeling like you’re walking through doors on the USS Enterprise. First, conventional sliding doors have a single opening speed. You arrive at one and must wait for whatever that speed is. Second, a sliding door will open for just about anything that can trip its sensor. Now, robotics researchers have unveiled a new kind of automatic door sensor and motor system, augmenting them in order to make the doors more intelligent.

The new technology, recently presented at the International Conference on Robotics and Automation in Hong Kong, fixes these problems with a 3D laser scanner and better mathematical models and algorithms. Combined, the scanner and models can tell how many people are heading towards the door and at what speed. Moreover, it can tell who intends on using the door, eliminating all the false openings.

Because the scanner can see a whole body, one person can walk parallel to the door opening and nothing will happen, while another person can run straight at the door and it will open in time. It does this by calculating the speed of the person (or people) and getting its motors running accordingly. You really might feel like Jean-Luc Picard.

You can see the smarter automatic door in action below:

The new technology can apparently run in snowy and rainy conditions, and can even minimize interference from other door sensors. Installing the new doors will only cost an extra $1,000 per door, the researchers estimate, which is a lot more feasible than trying to build a warp engine if we really wanted to go full Trekkie.

But despite how smart this new automatic door technology is, I won’t be sold on it until the researchers add in that wonderful woosh.

“Development of Intelligent Automatic Door System,” by Daiki Nishida, Kumiko Tsuzura, Shunsuke Kudoh, Kazuo Takai, Tatsuhiro Momodori, Norihiro Asada, Toshihiro Mori, Takashi Suehiro, and Tetsuo Tomizawa from The University of Electro-Communications, and Hokuyo Automatic Co., was presented last week at ICRA 2014 in Hong Kong.


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  1. Rebekah Wegener says:

    I really hope the researchers cite the original research on this from 2009, the numerous publications in subsequent years and the working doors built by Norwegian, German and Australian researchers back in 2010-2011.  The original research even makes reference to Star Trek and intelligent sliding doors.