Driving at night is a commonplace we are all familiar with. Everybody does it and nobody thinks it’s a big deal. Cars are outfitted with headlights to illuminate your path so there shouldn’t be any danger, right? Not necessarily. There’s always that chance that your headlights don’t catch a person or an animal until the last second or something jumps in front of your view before you can do anything. Thus there is much room for improvement when it comes to safe night driving.
That’s why Ford is incorporating night vision technology into their new headlight systems. By placing an infrared camera on the front of the car, it will now be able to pick up heat signals from any pedestrians or other life forms that may come near, giving you more time to avoid potential accidents than with standard headlights alone. When the car picks up a heat signal, an additional spotlight will automatically shine on that area and your dashboard display will also notify you of the potential hazard.
Image source: Car and Driver
Another huge advancement with the system, is that the infrared camera can recognize up to eight hazards at once. In this situation, the car outlines the numerous potential hazards into the levels of potential risk, using shades of yellow and red.In such a case, the dashboard it indicates and makes the two most dangerous obstacles the focus of spotlighting.
Beyond the heat sensing capabilities that the cameras possess, they can also see and interpret traffic signs, feeding them into your dashboard so that you’re always clear of what lies ahead of you. Onboard GPS systems let the car know exactly what road you’re on at all times and can even tell where sudden hills or turns are and prepare you for it by adjusting the headlights accordingly.
But what about when GPS information stalls out or you’re driving through some thick, unknown territory? Then there’s still no need to worry as another camera is mounted in the rear view mirror facing forward to scope out lane markings and set a course accordingly. At the end of the day, perhaps the coolest thing about all of this road map plotting is that all of the information from your drive is stored so that if you ever find yourself venturing down the same route, your car will remember everything and refer back to it.
It’s great to see night vision technology start to be put into use for public safety reasons. Ford isn’t even the first car company to do so, as several others have started using their own night vision systems to aid in driver safety. As these systems rapidly develop even more, we should be seeing night vision as a requirement for new models in the near future.