2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-05-21 15:44
It should find its way into more and more models: the night vision assistant, which can also brighten up impenetrable blackness. The system has been nominated for the German Future Prize.
By Frank Heidmann
Every driver hates the situation: in the dark on the country road, visibility is already poor, there are oncoming cars that dazzle, and the rain doesn't make things any better. This is exactly where a new system is supposed to offer a solution: the night vision assistant provides a clear and sharp image of the road. At the moment it is only available in the Mercedes-Benz S-Class - but that should change soon.
Sharper than a mirror reflex camera
The project developed by partners DaimlerChrysler and Bosch in Stuttgart has been nominated for the German President's Prize for the Future this year. The image on the eight-inch monitor of the night vision device provides a better view than with the best headlights.
Statistics show why drivers need help at night: in the evening and at night, the volume of traffic is reduced by up to 15 to 20 percent. But despite the few cars, one in three fatal traffic accidents occurs at night. “We wanted to do something about this,” says project spokesman Jürgen Seekircher, and by “we” he means the developers at Mercedes and Bosch.
The development team has been working on concepts for accident-free road traffic for almost 20 years. The night vision assistant essentially consists of three components: Infrared headlights that illuminate the road without dazzling oncoming traffic, a large black and white display in the instrument cluster and, finally, as the centerpiece, a completely newly developed camera with a significantly higher resolution used as a thermal imaging camera in conventional night vision systems. “The camera is better than a single-lens reflex camera because the number of gray levels has been increased drastically,” explains Bosch employee Prof. Peter M. Knoll.
Visibility partially doubled
In the practical test, the drivers were able to see brightly clad test dummies on the roadside with the night vision assistant forty meters earlier than with dipped headlights. The effect was even more astonishing when the dolls were dressed in dark clothes: Instead of only being able to detect them from a distance of 70 meters, the night vision assistant recognized them from a distance of 160 meters. A serious difference that can make the difference between an accident and "just made it".
At Mercedes-Benz, everyone is completely satisfied with the “seeing car”. "After a short period of getting used to it, you can get along very well with the system," says Seekircher. Gradually, the security system will also be offered in the smaller Mercedes models. And after a certain period of time, Bosch will soon be able to offer the system to other automobile manufacturers as well. Then even more cars should learn to “see”. (dpa)