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Ford's new kick-activated tailgate provides hands-free opening

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March 7, 2012

A simple swing of the foot opens the rear hatch thanks to Ford's new kick-activated tailga...

A simple swing of the foot opens the rear hatch thanks to Ford's new kick-activated tailgate

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Ford may have spent last month using technology to create more problems, but this month it shows how it's using technology to actually solve problems. The new kick-activated tailgate on the Kuga SUV lets you open the tailgate without your hands. It's a valuable feature for anyone that tends to lug two armfuls worth of goods to the car.

The latest Kuga, which is on display at the Geneva Motor Show, features a two-sensor system that recognizes the movement of the shin and foot and opens the tailgate automatically. The feature is useful for anyone that has their hands full with groceries or other packages and wants to open the car without having to set them down. To open, Kuga owners simply lightly kick their foot under the rear bumper.

The hands-free tailgate system can only be activated when it recognizes the remote-entry key on your person. You don't have to pull your key FOB out to unlock the doors, because the system automatically recognizes it and unlocks with the flick of your foot. In this way, the system is as secure as a regular remote entry.

Ford developers spent six months working in the Human Machine Interface laboratory, tweaking the system with the help of volunteer kickers that tested the motion sensors. They ensured that the system distinguishes between actual kicks and other motions - say a pothole in the road - so that the tailgate doesn't inadvertently pop open when you least expect it.

With so much technology going into ambiguous or arguably dangerous automotive systems, it's good to see an automaker using technology to solve an actual real-life problem, however small it may be.

The kick-activated tailgate will be offered as an option on the new Kuga, which is set to launch in the U.K. early next year. The option is already available on the Kuga's North American counterpart, the Escape.

Source: Ford

About the Author
C.C. Weiss Upon graduating college with a poli sci degree, Chris toiled in the political world for several years. Realizing he was better off making cynical comments from afar than actually getting involved in all that mess, he turned away from matters of government and news to cover the things that really matter: outdoor recreation, cool cars, technology, wild gadgets and all forms of other toys. He's happily following the wisdom of his father who told him that if you find something you love to do, it won't really be work.   All articles by C.C. Weiss
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15 Comments

um,, the evil side of me would love to see someone take the tailgate in the face after using their foot to open it. I'm looking forward to this.

Facebook User
7th March, 2012 @ 06:34 pm PST

I would prefer to have a mechanical release but it is a good idea.

Slowburn
7th March, 2012 @ 06:44 pm PST

Wonder how that works in cold climates where the sensor gets covered in snow and ice from road spray?

Ct
7th March, 2012 @ 08:24 pm PST

since I am in the car repair business I have found some rear lids to be dangerous when they auto open, Mormon housewife knocked out by by minivan, film at 11 o clock news, stay tuned

Bill Bennett
7th March, 2012 @ 10:11 pm PST

They should make the tailgate hinge farther forward so you can carry a refrigerator. it would also reduce haw far it wings out when opened.

Slowburn
7th March, 2012 @ 11:23 pm PST

God idea but not a new one.

The BMW 5-series has this already.

BZD
8th March, 2012 @ 01:37 am PST

Just keep this car away from burly factory workers with safety shoes on. ;-)

Riaanh
8th March, 2012 @ 03:20 am PST

What if the all the doors folded up into the roof such as in shutters on shop fronts this avoids impaling oneself or ones fellow road user not to mention the paint work.

Richardf
8th March, 2012 @ 05:14 am PST

Absolute Brilliance.

Sometimes we get so involved we miss the little things...this is one of those little things that we slap our foreheads when we see and wonder why we haven't thought of it sooner.

John Hemingway Parkes
8th March, 2012 @ 05:31 am PST

So American vehicle manufacturing has a future.

Dawar Saify
8th March, 2012 @ 09:23 am PST

Watch out for snow&ice trying to balance packages.

My Mother's Lexus wagon has bumped several heads pretty hard on the way down.

It beeps but it simultaneously jerks downward rather

dangerously.

It has four different possible places to open/close it:keyfob,dash,outside rear door and under the door lip.

Lexus is usually good but that thing is bad.

I know it could be much better.

I'm sticking with my old tailgate on my truck.

The whole thing's removable,it's too ugly to steal and I can just reach over it.

No power windows/doorlocks,either.

People may like all that stuff but I think it just makes us lazy&spoiled and it's more stuff to break.

To each,

their own.

Griffin
8th March, 2012 @ 10:32 am PST

Great product. Too bad it's wasted on the worst brand of vehicle to be mass produced.

Gene Jordan
8th March, 2012 @ 11:12 am PST

To distinguish between shins and potholes???

Why not just inhibit it if the car's moving?

warren52nz
8th March, 2012 @ 12:05 pm PST

Was thinking the same thing, warren52

Arf
9th March, 2012 @ 06:46 am PST

What scares me is this: If it needs to know the difference between a shin and a pothole it must be active while driving. Wouldn't this be a real problem in a bad neighborhood? Anybody could open your tailgate and grab your stuff.

Edwin Ward
19th October, 2012 @ 06:40 pm PDT
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