July 19th, 2012
Visibility drops significantly when it is raining at night. A headlight will reflect off of raindrops and cause a glare in front of a rider. A new technology would shine light through the rain.
Smart headlights light up the road rather than the reflective water. The concept behind the smart headlight is still in the early stages. Srinivasa Narasimhan, an engineer at Carnegie Mellon University, and his team are working on developing the system.
Smart headlights redirect the light away from individual raindrops using a camera and a computer algorithm. The light is directed away from from each particle of precipitation by tracking the movement of the raindrops. The camera measures the speed, size, and direction of the water while the computer predicts where the droplets are traveling to.
It's described as a spotlight following an actor across the stage, but many times faster. The team is still exploring the best type of light to use, be it a projector or LED array. A safety measure would have to be implemented so the light level would never drop below a minimum safe level. "Unless itís a waterfall or something that occupies the entire volume in front of the headlight, it should be okay," Narasimhan says.
Other scientists, such as Mike Flannagan at the University of Michigan are working on other problems such as reducing the impact of other drivers who forget to turn off their high beams.
"People donít really think too much about safety," Flannagan says, "but they are very concerned with being visually comfortable at night."
5 comments on "New headlight technology can see through the rain"
Ouch sounds expensive,
Let me know when they are as common & cheap as contact lenses
That's pretty cool. Until they come on the market and the price goes down I am going to run a pair of PIAA driving lights. They are awesome and super bright, may not cut through the rain but I will for sure be seen.
Interesting... but I would like to point out a certain flaw in their logic.
They ran this test with 11 streams of water... and I would assume that the streams were calibrated so that there were no fluxuations in the rate of flow.
Now, lets look at a steady rain shower. The drops are not in a set number of steady streams, but coming down in a completely random order, and there is a LOT more of them for the cpu controlling the headlight system to contend with. Now, lets change the steady rain to a potent storm with gusty winds. Now, you have the rain coming at you from multiple angles, and rates of speed. Thats even more variables. the needed algorithms to deal with all of this would make the one needed for the demonstration pic seem like 2nd grade arithmatic.
The processors as well will have to be on a level greater than what even most gamers would use in their PC's.
I would guess that it would be at least another 20 years before this reached a level of affordability to make it practical for the automotive and motorcycle industries to afford placing them on vehicles.
I think the whole point of the picture was to show the light penetrate through the water and there was not light refraction from it. He makes the comment about unless there is a waterfall in front of the headlamp (large volume of water in a continuous stream) that the light would be able to penetrate it.
Or they could start making roads a color other than black.