Car blind spots are now officially history

October 9th, 2008 - 1:46 pm ICT by ANI  

London, October 9 (ANI): Japanese scientists have found a way to make solid features in cars like dashboard and doors “disappear” from the driver’’s point of view without modifying them in any way, thereby making road hazards clearly visible.
The “transparent cockpit” system, as the researchers call it, has been developed in the lab of Susumu Tachi, an electrical engineer at the University of Tokyo.
This system involves a pair of stereo cameras mounted on the passenger-side wing mirror that capture scenery usually hidden from the driver by the dashboard and the solid parts of doors, says Tachi.
The researcher further reveals that a headset worn by the driver projects the cameras” output onto the solid features, displaying a clear view of what hides behind them as if they were transparent.
To make the car appear transparent to the driver, video output from the headset is projected onto a retro-reflective surface covering the opaque parts of the interior. This surface directs any light that hits it straight back along its path and produces vivid video images.
To enhance the illusion of transparency, the projected images must be scaled correctly, something that the system does by using stereo cameras to judge the distance to objects in view, much the way humans do.
The head position of the driver is also taken into account, using movement sensors mounted on the headset projector.
The researchers say that the system can make the driver feel as if the opaque parts of the car were never there. This, they add, can make parking and spotting cyclists and pedestrians easier.
According to the researchers, pilots of helicopters or other aircraft may also benefit from such a system.
“These sort of systems have been talked about for years, but this the best example of its kind that I”ve seen so far,” New Scientist magazine quoted Andrew Parkes, who performs behavioural studies on drivers at the Transport Research Laboratory in the UK, as saying.
Letting the driver see usually hidden hazards is better than alarm systems that can be hard to interpret, he adds.
He believes that drivers of large goods vehicles who struggle to see pedestrians, cycles and vehicles on their near side may particularly find such a system beneficial.
“But there’’s a long way to go before deciding whether it would be beneficial in practice,” he adds. (ANI)

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