Visteon Corp. said yesterday at the 2008 Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas it is teaming up with 3M Co. to create new back-up systems, center-mounted rear lights and illuminated license plates for the back of future vehicles. The companies cooperatively unveiled the new technologies here at CES.
By employing capacitive sensors underneath the car’s rear bumper, the new back-up systems would help engineers eliminate the need for cut-outs in the rear bumper. Existing back-up systems, which use cameras or ultrasonic sensors, need the cut-outs so they can “see” what’s behind them. The capacitive technique doesn’t require cut-outs, however, because it can sense through the bumper.
“It’s behind the bumper, so you don’t even know the capacitive sensor is there,” said Susan Korpela, senior specialist for 3M’s Automotive Division. “It’s invisible to the consumer.”
Korpela said the system works by sensing the electrical capacitance in the area behind the bumper and by then inferring resistance from the capacitive output. By calculating the resistance, the back-up system “knows” if it’s approaching an object.
Visteon also said it is partnering with 3M on the use of so-called “light guide” technology to reduce the quantity of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) on the center high-mounted rear stop lamps and to create brighter license plates. The light guides employ a concept known as total internal reflection to pipe light across the center lamps and release it at designated locations. As a result, the stop lamps need one LED at each end, instead of a multitude of LEDs across the entire length of the lamps.
3M representatives at the Visteon booth also demonstrated the use of light guide technology in new, illuminated license plates that glow brightly in the dark. The license plates combine the light guides with reflective surface materials on the license plates to create the brightly-lit effect, even when the car’s ignition is turned off.
The lighted plates are expected to be launched in Europe first, however, because they are not currently designated for use in any U.S. states.