Road signs play a crucial role in providing important information to drivers, pedestrians, and emergency personnel. However, if these signs are missed, their purpose is defeated. In an effort to enhance road safety, Hyundai Mobis has developed a new technology that utilizes car headlights to project street signs directly in front of the driver, resembling a head-up display.
The new technology utilizes established projection technology found in DLP projectors, specifically the digital micromirror device (DMD) created by Texas Instruments. The DMD consists of thousands of small mirrors functioning as pixels in a projection display. By controlling the reflection of light from an array of LEDs, the system can project bright images onto the road surface ahead of the vehicle. This projection system is integrated into the car’s headlights.
To display the relevant street signs, a camera system captures the signs and analyzes them for reproduction through the projector. Speed limits, warnings for speed bumps, and construction signage can all be captured and projected onto the road to alert the driver.
Additionally, GPS data can be utilized to provide information on fixed hazards, highway exits, and speed limits. This comprehensive system not only benefits drivers but also contributes to pedestrian safety.
An example of the system’s potential impact on pedestrian safety is when a car comes to a stop. In this scenario, the projection headlights can display a virtual crosswalk on the road surface, indicating to pedestrians that they can safely cross. This feature could prove valuable for autonomous vehicles as well, as they can use this method to communicate with pedestrians while remaining stationary.
It’s worth noting that some aspects of this technology are already present in modern vehicles. Many cars display speed limits, school zones, and warning signs on the gauge cluster or head-up display. However, the effectiveness of projecting such signage directly onto the road surface is a subject of debate among safety advocates. Nevertheless, the development of this technology is a significant step toward improving road safety.
While the technology raises questions about its effectiveness compared to existing methods, it represents an important advancement in the pursuit of road safety.