By Amy Kraft
Posting in Technology
Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute have come up with a unique headlight system that cuts the glare from raindrops and snowflakes to improve driver safety.
Srinivasa Narasimhan and colleagues at Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute invented a smart headlight system that improves visibility by redirecting light to shine between rain particles.
The system is made up of a camera that tracks the motion of raindrops and snowflakes falling in front of the car's headlights. The images are then sent to a processor, which uses a computer algorithm to predict where the particles will fall a few milliseconds later so it can redirect light rays to eliminate the glare from falling drops of rain.
"If you're driving in a thunderstorm, the smart headlights will make it seem like it's a drizzle," Narasimhan said in a statement.
The system is also capable of detecting oncoming cars and can direct headlight beams away from the eyes of drivers moving in the opposite direction.
Lab tests have demonstrated the efficacy of the system, but researchers say they need to work out a few problems before it can be used in cars.
"The system isn't perfect--in heavy rain accuracy is at 70 percent (that is, it removes 70 percent of the rain from view) at roughly 18 miles per hour. At 60 miles per hour, that drops to just 15 or 20 percent. But even 20 percent is a fairly good bump in visibility--certainly better than zero percent. The next step is to make the system better at accounting for car movements that aren't simply straight forward (presumably compensating for turning or lane changes and the like)."
Researchers are now engineering a smaller version of the smart headlight to be installed in a car for road testing
Photo via Carnegie Mellon
Jul 10, 2012
I am really impressed by this technology of smart headlights so that drivers can avoid being harm by accidents due heavy rain drops and snow, it is amazing. http://www.national.co.uk/information/winter-tyres.aspx
One challenge will be for the system to fail gracefully. Imagine cruising along the highway at night with the system eliminating half of the downpour. You will be slowed down from normal, non-raining speed, but you will still be going as fast as you can and still see. If anything causes the system to stop working (hail? a splash from another car? spotlights from road construction?) you will be going too fast for your new level of unassisted vision. But don't hit your brakes! There are cars right behind you. And probably they will be following closely because they do not have the fancy vision system and are tailgating to take advantage of your "super vision". I'm not saying "Don't do it!" Just think about what you are doing because there will be trade-offs.
No need, just fit night vision with infra red /image intensifier capability depending on weather conditions. can be retrofitted like car radio so no extra production costs in cars manufacture for those who want it, and much simpler technically speaking with less to go wrong, been tested by the military for years.
OR... instead of applying a rather expensive technology to a car (and its associated cost passed onto the consumer in this current economic chaos) would it not be better just to slow down when you are driving in inclement weather??
...if it were your child or spouse being driven to the emergency room, you might appreciate the ability to go faster than 18 MPH.