Ever since the original prototype of the Tesla Model X electric SUV was first unveiled, one of the most notable design and engineering features has been the vertically-opening “falcon-wing” doors. After all, no one in their right might ought to have anticipated spotting futuristic, DeLorean-esque doors on an eco-conscious grocery-getter.
But if you were previously laboring under the delusion that the Tesla Model X‘s falcon-wing doors were a simple case of glitzy form over function, last night’s launch event ought to have put that misconception to bed; two minivans were driven onstage during last night’s presentation, and parked very closely on either side of the Tesla Model X so that observers might see just how much the doors help to ease vehicle ingress and egress.
See, the typical, rearward-sliding doors on the average minivan are quite useful for opening the vehicle door while obstacles flank on either side, but those doors protrude several inches out from the sides of the vehicle, often making slipping past a difficult ordeal. The Tesla Model X features double-hinged upward-swinging doors, so that the doors can still swing open without hitting any obstacles, but also clear a path of entry so that you can easily enter or exit the vehicle.
Even more impressive, however, is that each of the two hinges on the Tesla Model X falcon-wing door is independently motorized, and ultrasonic sensors detect the door’s distance from possible hazards. To avoid introducing unsightly, disruptive plastic puck covers to the design, the Tesla Model X team actually developed a new sensor which can effectively conduct sonar through the sheet metal. Using that feedback, motors can control both the vertical rise of the Tesla Model X doors, and the outward sweep on the secondary hinge.
If you’re curious to see the falcon-wing doors in action, or to watch the Tesla Model X launch event in-full, take a look at our article from earlier today.