Augmented Reality Makes Vehicles Transparent – from the video
Researchers from Portugal are developing a system integrated into a car which can help drivers see what is going on in front of a bus or a car moving in front of them. This kind of system might eventually help prevent accidents by giving drivers more information on the road ahead allowing them to decide if it is safe to pass the large vehicle or not.
Professor Michel Ferreira and his team from Portugal’s University of Porto are working on an interesting life saving technology which looks like it is coming straight out of science fiction movies. The technology will give drivers what you can literally call X-ray vision – or the ability to see what is going on in front of a truck or a bus. The way this work is actually quite a bit more down to earth. Trucks, busses and other heavy vehicles are already equipped with backwards facing cameras so they can see where they are going when they are driving backwards. Having a forward facing camera (something that many vehicles already have today for other reasons) could be the first step to making the technology work.
If the large vehicle already have a camera what you need to do is attach a transmitter to it so it can broadcast a live feed to a car driving behind it. That car can have an LCD on the windshield (or a type of Head’s Up Display – something that fighter jets have and more recently several luxury cars as well).
The new system basically allows the driver of the car to see what the front facing camera in the bus or truck sees – letting them know if it’s safe to try and pass or not. The system was already tested with real vehicle traveling on the road and proved helpful (although still in development stage).
It seems that the current limitation of the system is video delay (around 200ms which doesn’t seem like much but it can mean that you could miss the exact location of a moving vehicle – something you do not want to do when you are trying to pass a truck of the highway.
From the video demo below we can add what can only be seem to us like another drawback of the current design and that is the abstraction to the drivers field of view of the Head’s Up Display video (which could distract the driver – at least in our view).
A video showing the concept of the Augmented reality system
This is not the first time that we are covering advanced Head’s Up Display technologies here on TFOT. In 2007 we looked at an interesting startup company called Lumus which tried to develop glasses with a sort of head’s up display (building on knowledge from developing military fighter jet heads up displays) which they integrated into small glasses (kind of like Google Glass but about 5 years before and with more advanced technology). So far the technology sadly did not reach the market.
Iddo has a B.A. in Philosophy and Cognitive Science and an M.A. in Philosophy of Science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is currently writing his Ph.D. thesis on the relationship between the scientific community and industry. Iddo was awarded the 2006 Bar Hillel philosophy of science prize for his work on the relationship between science and technology. He is a member of the board of the lifeboat foundation and was the editor of several high-profile science and technology websites since 1999.