Japan's Honda Motor Co. is using chips to help drivers stay centered while traveling down narrow roads. No, not computer chips - small black ceramic chips affixed to either side of the vehicle's windshield.
The chips, which measure just 1/2 centimeter (about 0.2 inch) in width, are barely noticeable during normal driving. When drivers attempt turns on narrow roads and tight lanes, however, passively noting the position of one of the triangles against the background may help put the side of the road into perspective and result in a more accurate turn.
It may sound complicated but passive assists such as this are designed to "fly under the radar", as it were. Nothing to learn, no new procedures to practice - something drivers of today's increasingly complex automobiles will surely appreciate.
Honda Japan's research-and-development team in Japan has been researching the effectiveness of the black, triangle-shaped markers to the point where they've begun applying for domestic and international patents on the low-tech technology.
According to the Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper, after monitoring the line-of-sight movements of over 1,000 test drivers it was determined that the unobtrusive chips had a measurable effect when the drivers attempted turns on lanes slightly wider than the width of their cars.
Though Honda Japan's current testing is in preparation of a global roll out of the chips, a spokesperson from the American Honda Motor Co. stated that the company was not planning to introduce the windshield chips to U.S. market vehicles anytime "in the near future."
Readers are advised not to take matters into their own hands by applying triangular stickers of their own design to the windshields of their vehicles. It's likely that Honda will be determining an optimum position for the chips that will vary from one vehicle model to another. In other words, this is one passive technology that one shouldn't be too aggressive to install. (via WSJ and Yomiuri Online)