Smart Headlights Improve Visibility in Rain and Snow, Make Road Safer for All

Smart Headlights© Carnegie Mellon

Better Visibility in Bad Conditions = Safer Roads

Making our roads safer is a good thing in itself and doesn't require further justification, but it can also have green benefits such as encouraging more people to walk and bike. Carnegie Mellon researchers, along with partners, are working on an interesting technology that might do just that. It's a kind of smart headlight that dynamically dims parts of itself to avoid illuminating raindrops or snowflakes, but still illuminates the road ahead. It might sound impossible, but with the right hardware and software, it can definitely be done. In fact, you can the system in action in this video.

Smart Headlights© Carnegie Mellon

How Does It Work?

The Carnegie Mellon researchers write:

The headlight is a co-located imaging and illumination system consisting of a projector, camera, and 50/50 beamsplitter. The camera images the precipitation at the top of the field of view, the processor determines the future locations of the particles and the projector reacts to dis-illuminate the particles. The entire process from capture to reaction takes about 13 ms.

Smart Headlights© Carnegie Mellon

The picture above shows the system at work. The red dotted line shows the effect of the system's latency; it takes a bit of time to predict the trajectory of the raindrops at whatever speed the vehicle is currently moving. But below that, the system acts to avoid illuminating the drops as much as possible while still illuminating the background. Very impressive!

And it's just the beginning. We can imagine that at some point in the future, all vehicles - including buses - will have smart headlights that provide better visibility in all kinds of bad conditions.

Via Carnegie Mellon, Autopia

See also: California's Air Resources Board Approves $27 Million in Incentives for Greener Vehicles

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