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Benefits of ‘smart windscreen technology’ clear as day

Technology inspired by fighter jets is being used in windscreens to alert drivers of the whereabouts of nearby vehicles in bad weather.

A new ‘smart windscreen’ is being developed by Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU) to aid drivers unable to see other road users clearly in poor conditions.

The research team from the university’s Virtual Reality and Simulation Laboratory, part of the School of Engineering is currently being headed up by Professor Vassilis Charissis. They are responsible for the development of the fighter-jet style heads-up display (HUD), which lights up with a projection of obstacles and other road features during poor road conditions.

While not used in real-life situations yet, it has been evaluated in a 3D driving simulator, which recreates stretches of Britain’s motorways, allowing drivers to navigate the roads under a variety of conditions within a virtual reality.

The windscreen creates images to suggest cars which would not normally be visible in, say, a dense fog. It even alerts drivers when it is safe to change lanes and can sense vehicles up to 400m away. The device can be switched off or on when appropriate. 

Professor Charissis had this to say: ‘Driving is a demanding psychomotor activity which can be significantly hampered by adverse weather conditions.

‘Drivers’ spatial and situational awareness suffers in such conditions, as neighbouring vehicles and other objects can be hard to see and avoid.’

Over 150 trials have now been carried out on the interface, and initial results have been very positive. The device offers an increased response time to the driver and is said to reduce the chance of a collision in fog or heavy rain by as much as 70%.

The simulation allows motorists to drive in the thickest foggy conditions, and suggests the device would be of enormous benefit to commercial fleets and emergency service vehicles, whose livelihood relies on navigating UK roads regardless of the weather.

With one in five crashes on the road currently involving road users who have failed to judge another road user’s path or speed, it is thought that this technology could also dramatically reduce road accident rates.

Professor Charissis has an impressive CV as top computer scientist with experience in numerous commercial and academic projects designed to investigate Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). He used his experience to analyse traffic patterns in Scotland and created an accurate driving simulation which included building, landmarks and road signs.



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