Automaker GM, working with Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Southern California, is developing a new head-up display that outlines the road and potential hazards with lasers.
The system would use sensor technology such as infrared cameras, currently used for night vision by Mercedes-Benz and BMW, to look ahead when visibility is poor on dark nights or foggy days. When the cameras see cars, animals, pedestrians, or any other obstacle, lasers would outline them on the windshield. Similarly, the system could see the road ahead when the driver can't, and paint the edges of the road on the windshield.
To create this head-up display, GM's R&D group coated the inside of the windshield with transparent phosphors. Compact ultraviolet lasers inside the car cause the phosphors to light up. The lasers aim where the forward-facing sensors detect the road or obstacles.
GM and BMW both currently offer head-up display technology in their cars that shows data such as vehicle speed and navigation instructions.
Beyond safety applications, this laser windshield technology could also be used to show navigation or other data while letting drivers keep their eyes on the road ahead.