There aren't many things in this world as cool as night vision. Fonzie in his prime, maybe; or possibly flying around in a zero-gravity plane in the name of antivirus -- but neither of these things is up there with seeing like a bat. We'd all give the leftmost portion of our reproductive organs for that.
Bosch (the company behind the ESP 'anti-elk murdering system') is fully aware of this, which is why its scientists have been busy upgrading the night-vision system first spotted on the 2009 Mercedes-Benz E-Class. Like the existing Night Vision gadget, Night Vision Plus provides a high-contrast image of the road immediately ahead of the vehicle. This new system, however, now intelligently analyses the image to identify and highlight pedestrians on the screen.
The system uses four main components to function. An infrared camera mounted behind the windscreen peers out at the road ahead, watching for reflections from the car's infrared headlights. The resulting images are then processed by a control unit and displayed on a high-res display on the instrument binnacle in front of the driver.
The control unit analyses the image on a pixel-by-pixel basis to detect whether objects are stationary or moving from a distance of up to 150m away -- three times further than conventional headlights. In theory, errant jaywalkers can be detected sooner than with the naked eye alone, though we're not so sure how effective the system is for stationary drunkards passed out by the side of the road.
So what do you reckon? Would you be brave enough to watch a tiny 7-inch screen instead of the road ahead? Is this too much like playing a video game? Do you care that much about pedestrians? Let us know in the comments below, or splash out on a new generation Mercedes-Benz S-Class to try it for yourself.