Invisible Hoods Could Help on Blind Curves

April 10th, 2014

Land Rover's transparent hood

There’s a blind curve on my way home that both thrills and frightens me. On adventurous days, I push my right foot down on the accelerator and take the uphill hard-right turn fast and tight while hoping there’s not a stalled car or deer or some other obstacle looming as I let my mind transport me to Laguna Seca.

On other days I approach the curve with caution, even slowing to a near crawl as intuition alone tells me to be wary.

I haven’t encountered a problem on this turn, but I know it’s quite possible that someday I will, because there are a few moments when all I can see are my hood and the sky.

Is this a curve that technology can outsmart, or will I forever be doomed to navigate those few seconds blindly?

One of the cars I drive is a 2013 Subaru Legacy with the EyeSight system. It has adaptive cruise control and lane-departure warnings, it detects obstacles and can even slow or stop the car if necessary. In fact, I can set the cruise at 40 mph, put my feet up and let the car handle heavy stop-and-go traffic all day long. Yet all that technology is useless on the blind curve, because even the car wouldn’t “see” an obstacle until it was too late.

In the world of off-roading, there are lots of blind curves and steep approach angles where the driver’s line of vision shoots straight into the stratosphere. Land Rover wants to tackle that problem by using cameras to project the area hidden beneath the hood onto the windshield’s head-up display to create the illusion of an “invisible bonnet,” so the driver can see the road beneath and slightly ahead of the vehicle.

In this age of overdosing our cars with unnecessary technology, Land Rover’s new idea makes sense. At first it seemed ridiculous, but after taking that blind curve again, the idea became genius.

The technology is just for show currently, but could have future applications in our vehicles. If it were available for my Subaru, I’d buy it today. Plus, think of the implications in other applications: Large trucks could use it for improved vision, and supercars could use it to avoid concrete stop blocks.

Let’s hope this technology becomes as standard as backup cameras!

Would you rather have a backup camera or an invisible hood?

-tgriffith

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