"Dipped (traditional) headlights only illuminate about 56 meters when the breaking distance at 100 km/h is about 80 meters," says Professor Ros Vidal of the University of Granada.
And with about 42% of fatal car accidents happen at night, it is becoming more apparent that something needs to be done. Even though 42% seems relatively low, one must consider that there is just over 60% less traffic during the night time hours. Many of these accidents are due to reduced visibility and a smaller field of view from the lack of illumination from traditional headlights.
High-Resolution IR Camera
The Department of Computer Architecture at the University of Granada is currently working to solve this problem. They have created an electronics system that when installed on a vehicle significantly improves driving capability during the hours of decreased visibility. The system uses night visors and Infrared (IR) cameras that feed a central computer which in turn informs the drives via a Heads-Up Display (HUD), acoustics or other means.
The IR cameras can "see" farther than the illumination of current headlights. The cameras constantly scan, allowing the microchip to analyze and update the information. The system can detect things such as bends or turns in the road, debris, pedestrians, other cars and animals. It also gives a read out of how far away the object in question is. It does this by using the depth of the scene interpreted in an array of colors. Red means closer and potentially more dangerous, blue means further away and not as much of a threat. All of this information is fed to the driver in real-time.
With and increasing number of dangers associated with driving, it is becoming more important for us to pay closer attention and use every available resource to reduce our risk. As our Advanced Driving Assistant Systems improve, they will be more readily available to the general public. With the help of researchers like Professor Vidal and more driving discipline on the part of the consumer the road will be at least a little bit safer.