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Transportation Technology

Headlights That See Through Rain and Snow 210

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-working-on-seeing-through-cats-and-dogs dept.
wisebabo writes "I think it was Newton who said if you knew the position and velocity of every particle in the universe, you could predict the future down to the effect the flutter of a sparrow's wing would have on the weather. Aside from quantum indeterminacy (which, of course, he knew nothing about) and questions of free will, it is clear we are a long long way from getting even close to the theoretical limits of prediction. Still, here's something that, to me, is very impressive. Some researchers manage to track raindrops (or snowflakes) in front of a light and, in real time, change the beam so that they are not illuminated! This drastically reduces glare. The obvious application is for driving cars in inclement weather. I'm hoping we're entering a new age where computers (and cheap sensors) have become so powerful as to make possible a whole host of 'magical' (like Arthur C. Clarke predicted) applications."
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Headlights That See Through Rain and Snow

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  • Magitech (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuricouRaven (1897204) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:20AM (#40539021)
    Here is another possible idea: LCD screen on windows. Track driver eye position. Create opaque circles exactly positioned on the lines between eyes and sun. Far better than those flip-down sunshields. Added bonus, someone will be able to hack it to obscure billboards too.
    • If it is gonna be hacked, you can bet on it that the speed limit signs will be blocked first, and that they will be replaced by more ads. If the internet has taught me anything, it is that hackers increase advertisements, not decrease them.

      And btw, if it can be hacked, I'm not gonna sit in that car.

      • Re:Magitech (Score:5, Informative)

        by c0lo (1497653) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:41AM (#40539145)

        If the internet has taught me anything, it is that hackers increase advertisements, ...

        Lucky you. Internet taught me Rule 34.

        • by tehcyder (746570)

          If the internet has taught me anything, it is that hackers increase advertisements, ...

          Lucky you. Internet taught me Rule 34.

          Some of us knew that way before the internet.

          Now get off my lawn, I'm going to read some bizarre Victorian erotica.

          • Now get off my lawn, I'm going to read some bizarre Victorian erotica.

            Whew. I though for an instant you were going to say "Cosmo".

      • From context, it was pretty obvious what the OP meant was "modified from the original intentions by the user", not "remotely compromised from some sort of nefarious evil-doer". You might as well say that if the car's engine, or brakes, or steering can be modified, you're not gonna sit in the car - they're all far more dangerous, and have been modifiable (and breakable) by anyone who pops the hood or jacks up the car since the start of automotive history.

      • by JosKarith (757063)
        Killed by pop-up viagra spam obscuring the car pulling out in front of you without looking... nice.
        ObIrony: Not dying but suffering spinal injuries that prevent any erectile function no matter how many little blue pills you take ...
    • Here is another possible idea: LCD screen on windows. Track driver eye position. Create opaque circles exactly positioned on the lines between eyes and sun.

      Until some crap in the buffer changes it to obscuring random cyclists, traffic lights, and/or police cars

      This one needs a bit of perfecting before it goes between the driver's eyes and the road. It does hold great possibilites though for highlighting cyclists, traffic lights, road signs, and police cars. Your idea is excellent but I do get the feeling that we're missing some really fantastic possiblities - especially when combined with the idea in the article.

      • by Mal-2 (675116)

        I've always wanted the tinted area at the top of the windshield replaced with a series of LCD panels -- not too many, nor too big, sorta square-ish (width similar to the height of the tinted area). Touch one and it goes dark to block the sun. Touch it again and it fades back to maximum transparency (which is still a couple stops of loss, but that's OK because this part of the window was ALWAYS tinted). You can run your finger across the whole thing to darken them all if driving in an area where doing it on-

    • Here's another idea: don't tell anyone your brilliant* idea.

      *but don't worry, I'm sure someone will be along to pour scorn on it any minute. "It'll only be effective for about 5 hours a day!" for example.

    • I remember reading some of Larry Niven's earlier SF stories in which a variation of this was used on his spacecraft. They were made out of Puppeteer General Product hulls which were transparent in the wavelengths their customers "saw" in. Anyway, the spacecraft hulls had this sun screening trick.

      There was one story ("Neutron Star"?) in which the protagonist worried if any of the other alien species saw in X-Rays.

      • by deimtee (762122)
        The the moving black dot trick was on goggles in a short story about an alien being kidnapped.
        Just looked it up. Story was "Grendel" by Larry Niven.
        Don't remember it being used on the spaceship hull, though.
    • Why a complicated solution with an LCD screen on the window? Just a mechanical gadget, that moves a coin sized item.
      • Because I rather dislike moving parts.
      • by hawguy (1600213)

        Why a complicated solution with an LCD screen on the window? Just a mechanical gadget, that moves a coin sized item.

        Because an LCD panel has no moving parts and will likely last the lifetime of the windshied and can react instantly, even if you sneeze. Plus it can dim your windshield during the day for overall sun protection. But the modified etch-a-sketch guts that move this little coin around the windshield will need regular lubrication and maintenance and the guys at the car wash are going to break it the first time they clean your windshield without deactivating it.

    • Does everyone have to go through field of vision tests first to ensure that you're not making them more at risk? How does this help when the sun is in my FoV? I can certainly see the visor when I drive, e.g. every time I look to the rear view mirror.

    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      Sounds like an awesome idea. Until you have to replace your windshield.

      • by Nadaka (224565)

        Stop making windshields of glass, a good polymer windshield can take a hammering and still be tough enough to be unscratched by anything less than a crash serious enough to destroy the vehicle.

    • by cellocgw (617879)

      Here is another possible idea: LCD screen on windows. Track driver eye position. Create opaque circles exactly positioned on the lines between eyes and sun.
      Nice thought, but ignores the major problem, i.e. glare. Even when the sun's in your line of sight, most of what messes up vision is the scatter (glare) off other objects such as dirt on the windshield.
      Stick with polarized sunglasses for now.

  • Hmm... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Chewbacon (797801) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:25AM (#40539031)
    Can we adapt this tech to my TV for when my wife casually walks between me and the screen while I'm playing Call of Duty?
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Or you could just reduce speed according to road conditions. Get off my lawn! This and the back up cam will clearly make it easier to see the expressions on the faces of pedestrians as you run them down. And that's something I can get behind.

    • Get off my lawn! This and the back up cam will clearly make it easier to see the expressions on the faces of pedestrians as you run them down. And that's something I can get behind.

      So you want to get behind backup cameras being used to reverse over people? I can only assume you have some kind of crush fetish!

    • by Pope (17780)

      Like I told my last wife, I said "Honey, I never drive faster than I can see. Besides that, it's all in the reflexes."

  • Free will? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:29AM (#40539047)

    'Free will' (read: your brain) is special and sits outside the sphere of the physical realm?

    Besides the fact that according to recent advances in the cognitive sciences free will is increasingly overrated.

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      'Free will' (read: your brain) is special and sits outside the sphere of the physical realm?

      Besides the fact that according to recent advances in the cognitive sciences free will is increasingly overrated.

      Yup, the human brain is just a slightly complicated computer, and real soon now we'll be able to build an exact replica of one, upload our "software" into it and live forever.

      And computers don't have free will, or else they wouldn't waste their time doing tedious calculations for human beings.

    • 'Free will' (read: your brain) is special and sits outside the sphere of the physical realm?

      Besides the fact that according to recent advances in the cognitive sciences free will is increasingly overrated.

      Maybe when they wrote "questions of free will" they were referring to things like "why does anyone still believe in it".

    • It's not so simple. Free Will, or answering the question, how do we choose? is the hardest problem in AI, in my opinion.

      Sure, a lot of times the answer is obvious. We have a natural genetic drive to have sex, to eat, to follow a crowd, try to fit in, not walk over cliffs, avoid death......

      But here's the thing, ultimately we can choose to avoid any of those drives. We can choose not to rape someone, we can choose our own path and not follow the crowd, we can jump out of an airplane (if you've ever don
  • by waterbear (190559) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:36AM (#40539101)

    "I think it was Newton who said if you knew the position and velocity of every particle in the universe, you could predict the future down to the effect the flutter of a sparrow's wing would have on the weather."

    Doesn't sound much like the kind of thing Newton wrote, have you got a citation for it?

    -wb-

    • by wisebabo (638845) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:49AM (#40539203) Journal

      "We may regard the present state of the universe as the effect of its past and the cause of its future. An intellect which at any given moment knew all of the forces that animate nature and the mutual positions of the beings that compose it, if this intellect were vast enough to submit the data to analysis, could condense into a single formula the movement of the greatest bodies of the universe and that of the lightest atom; for such an intellect nothing could be uncertain and the future just like the past would be present before its eyes."

      — Marquis Pierre Simon de Laplace

      Ok, I didn't get the quote exactly right but I think I captured the gist of it.

      • by Opyros (1153335)
        Wikipedia has a translation [wikipedia.org] of Laplace's quote (of course, the original was in French, so you couldn't have the quote exactly right in English).
  • The only downside is that there will be a "danger" period when some road users have them and some don't. Wise drivers will know that the other drivers are going slow because they cannot see as well, but plenty of idiots will tailgate drivers, overtake when it isn't safe, etc.

    I also wonder if it would be possible to create an "invisibility suit" with e-ink rain drops if you wanted to commit a crime near a busy road!

  • Not Magical (Score:3, Insightful)

    by AlastairMurray (537904) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:44AM (#40539167)

    to make possible a whole host of 'magical' (like Arthur C. Clarke predicted) applications

    He didn't predict that at some arbitrary point in the future technology would have the appearance of being magical, he didn't make a prediction at all in this regard. His statement "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." (presumably) means "Any sufficiently advanced technology relative to the observer's baseline is indistinguishable from magic.", but that isn't as catchy.

    If you could show someone from the 1700's an iPhone it would be "indistinguishable from magic" to them. If an alien race were to zip into orbit tomorrow at faster than light speed it would be "indistinguishable from magic" to us as we don't have any idea how that can be achieved, or even if it is possible. The technology described in the article is impressive but clearly distinguishable from magic, the article describes how it works.

  • by Alex Belits (437) * on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:45AM (#40539173) Homepage

    and questions of free will

    Free will has NOTHING to do with determinism. Free will has no meaning except from the point of view of whoever exercises it, and he can not predict his own behavior without predicting deciding to predict his behavior ad infinitum, what makes no sense. For everyone else, the question is absolutely irrelevant, so ability or inability to predict anyone else's actions is completely meaningless.

    • by Carewolf (581105)

      I think this is obvious to Computer Scientists, some Philosophers are slowly grasping it as well, but many still believe free will and determinism are related. In fact it is in Philosophy considered such a standard view that the opposite view is the one that has a special term: Compatibalism, that a deterministic world is compatible with free will.

      • by Alex Belits (437) *

        Those "philosophers" are actually theologists, and should go back to their stupid cults.

    • Couldn't you get around that problem by trying to predict your behaviour after you've already decided to predict your behaviour? All you need to do is determine the location and velocity of every particle in your body at a single point in time.....you don't need to figure out where it was previously, ad infinitum.
  • Old news with IR (Score:4, Interesting)

    by dargaud (518470) <slashdot2@nOsPAM.gdargaud.net> on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @03:49AM (#40539201) Homepage
    I know this is a different and potentially interesting system, but I had a crazy physics professor decades ago who added an infrared lamp to his headlights and he would drive in the fog with IR goggles (IR is less diffused than normal light). What was scary is that he would turn off the normal lights to avoid glare, so nobody could see him come...
  • by slb (72208) * on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @04:00AM (#40539271) Homepage
    Big misunderstanding about Quantum Physics: It is not because our interpretation of quantum states is probabilistic that quantum physics are NOT deterministic. There may perfectly well be a deterministic behavior of quantum physics, it's just that so far we can only describe is with non-deterministic mathematics. See the Copenhagen Interpretation [wikipedia.org]
    • by flonker (526111)

      IOW, the universe uses a PRNG rather than a true RNG.

      God probably used srand(time*time) at the start. As time would have been 0, we just need to figure out the algorithm, and we're set!

  • by tinkerton (199273) on Wednesday July 04, 2012 @04:24AM (#40539361)

    Use the tracking of the individual snowflakes to steer a MW laser installed on the hood of the car, that blasts all the nearby snowflakes, reducing glare.

    Now it's cool.

    • except the laser wont stop at the snowflake, burning anything in front of it.

      • by tinkerton (199273)

        Obviously. But it's still one wicked appliance

        • yes. yes it is.

          • by tinkerton (199273)

            It would have a knob on the side to tweak the power, in percentages of what's needed to vaporize the flake or drop, from 10% to 50000%.. The knob would be awkward ,too small, very sensitive and it wouldn't keep its setting so you'd have to correct it all the time as you drive. but you'd still be so happy with it.

  • FTA:

    "Light rays from the headlight that would normally hit the raindrop are automatically switched off,"

    Eh? A car headlight, even LED ones are not laser beams. The light spreads out immediately. There is no way to selectively prevent illumination from a given area using current car tech so how exactly are they doing it? You can't keep switching off the entire headlight every time there's a raindrop in front of it since there will be so many raindrops constantly in front that it will be off permanently.

    Are t

    • by Zironic (1112127)

      Well, it's important to remember that illumination is always relative. Rain Glare is caused by the relative difference in light reflected from the raindrops vs the light reflected from everything else.

      Thus to reduce the glare you don't need to make no light hit the raindrops, you just need to make -less- light hit the raindrops. I suspect they're using the exact same technologies you see in your average video projector.

    • by Exrio (2646817)
      FTA:

      using actual water propagated in front of the projector

      (Yes, they could've made it clearer... This is just a camera and a projector sitting together.)

  • by symes (835608)

    for when a lump of snow or mud sticks to the camera lense.

  • An experienced driver knows how to see through the snow, and what the appropriate speed is to drive when snow is falling. Give technology like this to an inexperienced driver and you could end up with drivers who are not driving appropriately for the conditions - at which point bad things happen. And unfortunately driver errors often have consequences for people beyond just the driver of one car...
    • by ceoyoyo (59147)

      And if you DON'T give this technology to an inexperienced driver, he may well drive too fast for conditions, etc. etc. It makes about as much sense to oppose windshield wipers or eyesglasses for the same reasons.

      • I'm not opposed to the technology outright. I'm just concerned that if it were deployed to the wrong drivers it could diminish the proper degree of fear that they should have for the conditions.

        In other words, it could do the same thing that AWD has done in far too many cases, and end up leading to drivers who ignore the laws of physics. The technology itself is neither good nor bad; however the results of having it can be catastrophic in the hands of the wrong, inexperienced drivers.

        Personally, I t
        • by ceoyoyo (59147)

          "Personally, I think everyone should learn how to drive in the snow and rain in a RWD car with no traction control and a lot of torque."

          Personally, I think that's exactly the wrong approach. Here's why: if my experience driving in the snow is with the worst possible equipment, when I get better equipment, as I inevitably will, I'll be LESS afraid of the conditions because I think the technology will help me. People need to drive, under controlled conditions, in the snow with all the bells and whistles and

  • Some researchers manage to track raindrops (or snowflakes) in front of a light and, in real time, change the beam so that they are not illuminated! This drastically reduces glare.

    Can we do the opposite, and change the beam to exclusively illuminate moving particles only? Bet it would look really cool.

  • Some posters already pointed out that the quote attributed to Newton is really something Laplace would have said, but it hasn't been pointed out that there is actually an established term for this line of thinking. It is called the Laplace demon [wikipedia.org].

  • The system's operating range is three to four meters in front of the projectorâ"the "critical range" at which glare is most distracting,

    That's the principle behind fog lights. A low, wide beam of light located below the driver's field of view.

  • What, no video?!?

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