Until driverless vehicles become the norm on Australia’s highways and byways, driver behaviour will always remain the single most important factor in road safety … but that’s not to say that technology can’t continue to help reduce the number of traffic accidents.
From the inventions of seatbelts and airbags to the advent of electronic stability systems and tyre pressure monitoring systems, vehicle innovations have helped to save countless lives. One of the next leaps forward could be the ‘Transparent Trailer’ concept being developed by British car maker Land Rover to allow drivers to see vehicles coming up behind them … even when they have a big a caravan sitting on their towbar.
Restricted visibility is one of the big downsides to towing for many grey nomads but the ‘see-through’ concept promises to eliminate the blind spots. The prototype ‘Transparent Trailer’ system combines the video feed from the vehicle’s existing surround camera system – which includes the reversing camera and a camera on each wing mirror – with a video from a digital wireless camera that is placed on the rear of the caravan. The video feeds are then combined to create the live video images that make the trailer behind appear see-through.
When the trailer is coupled to the towing car, the live video feed automatically appears in the rear view mirror inside the vehicle.
“When you are overtaking it is instinctive to check your mirrors, but if you are towing your vision is often restricted with large blind spots,” said Dr Wolfgang Epple, Director of Research and Technology, Jaguar Land Rover. “Our prototype system offers a very high quality video image with no distortion of other cars or obstructions which means the driver would have exactly the right information to make safe and effective decisions when driving or manoeuvring.”
Another innovation using similar technology is being trialled by Samsung, which hopes to make large trucks ‘invisible’ and allow drivers behind them to see what is going on ahead … even in the dark of night.
Samsung’s prototype transparent truck uses a front-facing camera that is live streamed onto a ‘video wall’ on its back doors, so drivers following the vehicle can see what is ahead.
“This allows drivers to have a better view when deciding whether it is safe to overtake,” Samsung said. “Another advantage of the Safety Truck is that it may reduce the risk of accidents caused by sudden braking or animals crossing the road.”