Narasimhan said that the new technology may not reach production cars for a decade. Three to four years of research remains, after which automakers might start building it into their vehicles. The technology could double the cost of each headlight, however, at least until economies of scale drive down the manufacturing costs. Ford Motor Co. is said to be interested in it, and the work is being sponsored by Intel Corp., the Office of Naval Research, and the National Science Foundation, among others.
CMU's development is significant because it serves as an alternative to the use of head-up displays to provide better vision in snow and thunderstorms. Up to now, automakers have experimented with computer vision methods, which remove rain and snow streaks from captured images and then project those images onto a head-up display. CMU researchers believe their technique has greater potential because it enables drivers to keep their eyes on the road.
Narasimhan said that he expects the ability to selectively turn on and off pixels to be appealing in other applications. It could enable vehicles to reduce glare for oncoming drivers or intelligently highlight obstacles in the road. "With a million pixels, you can even use the headlights to project images," he said. "You could project arrow marks on the road to tell drivers where to turn, so they don't have to be looking at their GPS all the time."
This may be just fine for snow and rain. But what happens if the face of the headlight freezes up. 100 watts of bulbs inside the headlight will take care of that. Would high tech headlights, that like to be kept cool, do that.
And, in order to guarantee great results, there should be one item mandated WHEN the auto companies implement these smart headlites. For driving in rain & snow, tires with minimal tread depth SHOULD be required! Then the full effect of driving at increased speed in inclement weather conditions will provide much statistical data for Version 2 of this great idea.
One blogger commented that her dad's cousin had a car w/ auto-dimming headlites. CADILLAC & later LINCOLN had this feature dating back to the mid 1950s. There was a "maic eye" mounted in a pod in the center of the dashboard. On the front was fresnel lens focusered on a light detector. On the rear was a knob inscribed with the words "NEAR" and "FAR". One could adjust the sensitivity of the "auto" function with this knob. In subsequent years, the sensor was moved to various other places on the dashboard. At one point it was nestled in the left corner of the dash.
To JMiller, as the comedian Dennis Miller says, "THIN THE HERD!" Darwinism with tough love. You wanna drive faster than it's safe to drive? Fine. Be sure to do so when you're driving along a narrow mountain road with a cliff on one side and a flimsy safety rail.
With the technology level required to mask illumination of raindrops, the car would certainly be able to incorporate the technology that masks the light heading toward the oncoming driver's eyes,while leaving the rest of the beam unaffected, so the oncoming driver would see pretty much a standard low beam. Masked High Beam (Glare-Free High Beam) technology already exists, albeit in a fairly simple form, in Europe.
I was quite unimressed with the video, but hey, if it's on YouTube it must be right, huh? If the reflection/detection/beam movement is feasible on the average automobile, it will still be some time in the future that this technology is commercially available.
It'll be intersting to see if it catches on. Sometimes ideas like the dim your headlights just really don't catch on and others like power locks and windows do. Perhaps if it becomes a safety issue like the back up cameras it will become legislated.
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