GM Develops Windshield That “Sees” What Drivers Don’t

GM's head-up windshield

GM's full-windshield head-up display technology, combined with night vision technology, allows for objects, such as deer, to be highlighted for the driver

General Motors is developing a windshield display system designed to outline the edges of roads in fog and even highlight a deer before it crosses into traffic.

Thomas Seder, group lab manager at GM Research and Development, has been working with teams from Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Southern California 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.

To put it in more simple terms: A beam of laser light would appear on your windshield in foggy conditions, outlining the side of the road that might not otherwise be visible.

Seder said in the GM press release,

Let’s say you’re driving in fog, we could use the vehicle’s infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could ‘paint’ the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is.

Sounds pretty good, in theory, and I’m usually a big fan of using new technology to improve the driving experience. But I can also be a bit of a skeptic with new technology like this. What if the sensors in the car mistake a river’s edge for the side of the road and guide the driver straight into raging rapids? Hmmm.

Then there’s the practicality of the windshield itself. GM says,

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

That’s all well and good until the windshield encounters a stray piece of highway gravel that chips it. Suddenly “coated with a series of transparent phosphors which emit visible light” sounds much more expensive than impressive.

While there are no current plans to use the full-windshield head-up system in GM vehicles, Seder says some of the supporting technologies could end up in GM vehicles in the near future.

Would you be interested in a windshield that also serves as a head-up display, or does it just sound like an expensive replacement someday?

-tgriffith

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1 Comment

  1. Hell yeah! Once this technology is tested, and problems are engineered out, it will definitely be the new standard in navigation, and visibility tech. I’ve been hoping that something like this was in the works.

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