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GM Developing Next-Gen Windshield

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WARREN, Mich., March 22, 2010 — Imagine a fog-shrouded morning when you cannot see the end of your driveway, let alone the road on which you are about to drive. Wouldn’t it be great if the sides of the road could magically appear on your windshield?

It’s not magic, and it’s not far away either.

General Motors’ research and development division and several universities are working on a system using data gathered from an array of vehicle sensors and cameras that would project images directly onto the entire surface of the windshield.

Using compact lasers and lane detection systems, GM researchers can project a "virtual" road edge onto their full windshield head-up display system to help driver’s stay on the road while driving in fog, rain or other inclement weather conditions. (Photos: GM)

Coated with a series of transparent phosphors that emit visible light when excited by a light beam — in this case from a compact ultraviolet laser — the windshield becomes a large-area transparent display, instead of current head-up display systems that use only a small portion of the windshield.

The ability to use such an expansive surface would enable the system to alert drivers of potential dangers that may exist outside of the normal field of vision — children playing, motorcycles passing or animals roaming along the side of the road.

Thomas Seder, GM group lab R&D manager, and his team are working with Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, as well as with other institutions, to create a full windshield head-up system leveraging night vision, navigation and camera-based sensor technologies to improve driver visibility and object-detection ability.

Using technology such as Opel’s Eye sign recognition system, GM researchers have developed a full windshield head-up display that will notify drivers if they are traveling over the posted speed limit.

Seder said that infrared cameras in the vehicle could identify the edge of the road, and lasers could “paint” it onto the windshield.

Enhanced vision systems are designed to help keep driver attention on the road ahead by displaying information such as vehicle speed, lane change indicator status and vehicle warning messages directly into the driver’s field of vision. GM first brought the technology to market in 1988; such display systems are currently available on the GMC Acadia, Chevrolet Corvette, Buick LaCrosse and Cadillac STS.

“This design is superior to traditional head down display-based night vision systems, which require a user to read information from a traditional display, create a mental model and imagine the threat’s precise location in space,” Seder said.

Researchers at GM have developed a rig to test the full windshield head-up display system currently under development.

The head-up system could be combined with automated sign-reading technology, similar to the Opel Eye system that debuted on the 2009 Opel Insignia, to alert drivers if there is impending construction or other potential problems ahead. It also could use navigation system data to alert drivers to their desired exit by reading overhead traffic signs.

Although GM is still developing the system, it said that some of the supporting technology could end up in vehicles in the near future.

“We have done testing on a number of drivers and their performance is better relative to head-down systems that are commonly used in vehicles today,” Seder said. “It’s a compelling design.”

For more information, visit
Mar 2010
AmericasBusinesscamera-based sensor technologiescamerasCarnegie Mellon UniversityDisplaysGeneral MotorsGMhead-up displayimaginginfrared cameraslane detectionlight beamLos AngelesMichigannavigation systemnight vision systemsResearch & TechnologySensors & DetectorsThomas Sedertraffictransparent phosphorsultravioletUniversity of Southern Californiavisible lightwindshieldlasers

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