Automotive Technologies that will Open Your Eyes

Good visibility is one of the most important considerations when designing a vehicle, and with the ever-increasing safety standards in the USA, manufacturers have been forced to review their efforts on balancing out many of the active and structural protective measures found in their vehicles. This is most evident in the driver-assist systems that aim to mitigate the hindrances caused by the prominent roof pillars in most modern vehicles that are there to improve structural integrity. Though the latest car reviews may not cover the effectiveness of the new measures that designers are coming up with, often as new technologies are still in the early stages of development, several of these innovations have been highlighted in car news websites recently. Some of the latest techs in development include the following:

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Jaguar’s 3D Immersive Head-up Display
From Jaguar Land Rover comes a new 3D technology that’s currently in development as part of the brands ‘Smart Cabin’ and a next-gen head-up display. According to the brand, the feature will display important safety information directly onto the windscreen below the driver’s direct line-of-sight in real-time, allowing the driver to keep their eyes on the road at all times.

This may seem relatively standard, but the brand’s focus is on the integration of advanced driver-assist technologies, which most modern cars are available nowadays. In other words, features such as forward collision avoidance, lane departure warning, and navigation directions can be displayed directly in front of the driver for improved reaction times. Augmented reality will also improve depth perception for the driver as the information will be mapped onto the road ahead, pointing out whatever pertinent information the system is relaying. This tech will also aid drivers in improving outward visibility during poor weather or nighttime conditions. As an added bonus, passengers could stream 3D movies directly from their seats, too.

Tesla’s Windscreen Laser Beam Technology
Though not officially in development as yet, automotive legend Tesla has patented a system that utilizes laser beams to clean glass, including that of the windows and the specialized cameras on the vehicle. The camera-based system will identify debris on windscreens, side or rear glass, and camera lenses, and then a laser beam will be pulsed across the surfaces to irradiate said debris. This would certainly benefit the existing technology found in Tesla vehicles, the Autopilot systems in particular, but whether it will be implemented or not, comes down to effectiveness, reliability, and how much the innovation will cost.

McLaren’s Ultrasonic Windscreen Technology
McLaren is renowned for its focus on designing high-performance sports cars with straight-up racy looks. And, innovation is not limited to aesthetics and performance, here. The brand is also looking to replace windshield wipers with high-tech innovation. The ultrasonic windscreen is a new concept where an inducer vibrates the windscreen at high-frequency, naked to the human eye, to physically shake off the debris and rainwater from the driver’s vision. This tech is found only in fighter jets currently, but McLaren aims to be the first to utilize it in a street-worthy vehicle. As a performance-oriented automaker, implementing this tech is primarily aimed at removing the windscreen wipers, which prove to be detrimental to aerodynamics, and to reduce overall weight.

While we’re not sure whether this would best regular windscreen wipers in comparison as yet, what is for certain is that this is quite probably a performance flex from the supercar brand. If anything, apart from the bragging rights and convenience, it may also be beneficial to fuel economy on regular cars, considering the minor reduction in weight that may give the engine slightly less work to do – but even this is a stretch.

Volvo Truck’s 360-degree Scanning Technology
Volvo is a brand synonymous with safety, and its 360-degree scanning technology shows just how dedicated the brand really is, not just to the protection of the drivers and passengers of their vehicles, but also to pedestrians. From the trucks division comes an innovation that enables the vehicle to do a 360-degree scan in order to interpret the environment and then even suggest a course of action to the driver. The tech is called Non-Hit Car and Truck and is purposed for trucks that frequent inner-city conditions where visibility is limited and pedestrians are at their greatest risk of being involved in an accident. The system receives data from sensors, radars, and cameras located all around the vehicle; if the driver doesn’t respond to the prompts, the tech can automate the steering and braking systems of the vehicle. While this is not necessarily a new tech feature, having made news some years back already, such vital progress in terms of road safety cannot be understated.

Alaina Gassler’s A-Frame Blind-spot Technology
‘From the people, for the people’ comes a new fix for blind-spots caused by the A-frame pillars in cars, engineered by none other than a 14-year old girl from Pennsylvania. Alaina Gassler developed tech that projects imagery of what’s behind the A-frame pillars, recorded by exterior cameras, onto the inside of the pillars so the driver can see what’s behind them. Essentially, this tech makes the pillars transparent. As you can imagine, this would be a great improvement to any car, especially larger SUVs, sloped-roof coupes, and chunky crossovers. Alaina participated in a nationwide S.T.E.M. competition and came up with the idea after noticing the frustrations of her family members when driving the family SUV due to its cumbersome size. The innovation promises to be better than standard blind-spot monitors, as the images are displayed in real-time and are not affected by bulky frames that can hide more than what the sensors pick up.

Though the tech is still very new and rather rudimentary, Alaina aims to improve on the idea by incorporating LCD screens in the pillars instead of projected images, through which the exterior cameras will relay the outside imagery. This will help mitigate glare and improve screen visibility during different times of the day, too.

With so many technological innovations in driver-assistance and visibility being brought to the fore recently, an autonomous future maybe something people isn’t really looking forward to. Many simply want to feel more in control rather than being left to the devices of artificial intelligence, and that’s okay; as more people continue to innovate on the safety of manual driving, the less we’ll need superior systematic control from would-be Skynet AI.