Road Safety News

Camera could help drivers see around blind corners

Wednesday 9th December 2015

Scientists have developed a camera system that can “see around walls and locate hidden objects”, which could help drivers see around blind corners.

Produced by researchers at the Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, the system works by sending laser light from the camera round corners, before receiving it back again.

From this it is able to detect moving objects that are hidden from view, which the researchers say would be extremely useful when a driver's visibility is obscured by walls or large vehicles. It is hoped the technology’s ‘centimetre precision’ could help prevent collisions and save lives.

The researchers are hoping to be able to apply the technology to a ‘variety of real-life situations’ in the near future.

Professor Daniele Faccio, Heriot-Watt University, said: “The ability to detect the3D shape of static, hidden objects has been demonstrated before, but the long acquisition time required by existing methods meant locating and monitoring the objects was a major challenge.

“We can now track hidden objects in real time and we’re still making discoveries about how the light identifies the objects, and can picture them in considerable detail.

“We’ve already increased the distance from which the camera system will work, which is over several metres. We’re also focusing on how we could attempt 3D reconstruction of the objects captured by the camera.”

Photo: Heriot-Watt University


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My motorcycle already has a similar device which allows me to safety negotiate blind bends. On the RHS handlebar there is a control that you can twist in either direction. When I twist it backwards I can make the bike go slower, so I can choose an appropriate speed (and gear) and then go around any blind corner, seeing what’s in front of me.
Garrad Bailey. Bristol

Agree (8) | Disagree (0)

This is exactly the sort of thing you get when clever people have clever thoughts so well done to them.

From our point of view however there is something called Hirschhorn’s law of stretched systems which says "every system always operates at its capacity. As soon as there is some improvement, some new technology, we stretch it."

If this development were to become a popular driver aid would it help make those drivers safer or would it just stretch their performance envelope? According to Hirschhorn's law it can only stretch the envelope even though it would probably be introduced and sold as a safety enhancement technology.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)

No doubt it works in the lab, but they seem to be asssuming that all corners and bends on roads are conveniently bounded by a flat reflective surface - supposing it's a hedge or a building with an irregular profile? The possibilties for false negatives are endless.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (1)

James I am sure that there will be a capability that can be found within the car and roads safety industry. I am sure that there will be a manufacturer that will be looking for this as an addition to the multiple appliances that they are new fitting to cars.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is safer Campaigner

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)

This is a great technology that can be applied to real life situations and should be introduced as soon as possible.
James K Glaspy Townsville Australia

Agree (4) | Disagree (8)

I agree with the first two comments and would add that it seems likely that drivers would need to look at some sort of screen instead of where they are going. Has anyone done any sort of cost-effectiveness estimates?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (4) | Disagree (4)

I suppose that this new proposed aid would allow all drivers to take bends faster even though they may be going too fast to stop in time. Motorcyclists, who are at greater risk of death, could see what they are going to hit before they either hit it or lose control anyway. Whatever happened to being able to stop in the distance you can see to be clear and slow before bends, particularly if it is a blind one?
Bob Craven lancs...Space is Safer Campiagner

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)

Interesting technology for sure and may just develop into real world motoring use. However a likely unintended consequence is for some drivers to use the technology to go faster around blind bends, rather than increase safety.
Pat, Wales

Agree (12) | Disagree (1)