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Seeing Through the Storm

Did you know almost half of driving accidents occur at night?1,2 With visibility already compromised, streaks from precipitation also create distractions, adding to the challenges already posed by lower light. With that in mind, Intel is collaborating with researchers from Carnegie Mellon University to develop smart headlights that may someday improve road safety by making precipitation invisible to drivers at night. 

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You're driving home late at night, when it starts to rain. As the downpour builds, your headlights turn raindrops into a flurry of streaks that block your view of a stalled car ahead. 

This accident waiting to happen might be prevented by smart headlight technology in development by Intel and Carnegie Mellon University. While standard headlights illuminate everything in their path—including precipitation—smart headlights control individual light rays so that they shine between, not on, raindrops and snowflakes. That means the technology can eliminate distracting streaks in the driver’s line of sight, while at the same time selectively lighting up obstacles, such as animals, pedestrians, and other vehicles. Suddenly, with smart headlights on your car, nighttime driving is easier and safer, even in rain or snow. 

Potential benefits of the revolutionary new technology reach beyond just driving, for uses in emergency situations and military operations in low-visibility conditions. In fact, similar technology is already in use on soldier’s helmets for night use, so increasing the functionality of the technology to support higher speed movement is the next logical step.

According to Dr. Mei Chen, Principal Investigator for the Intel Science and Technology Center in Embedded Computing at Intel Labs, "Collaborating with the right partners, we should be able to produce this technology in 56 years." That would make the technology widely available for both individual consumers and government agency uses in the next ten years. When that happens, your late-night drives—even when the weather turns bad—may become a lot safer.

Intel Labs

Intel Labs

Intel researchers work to identify challenges and develop technological innovations today for a better tomorrow in enterprise, consumer, and academic research.

Smart automotive headlight

Carnegie Mellon

Today, Intel is collaborating with researchers at Carnegie Mellon University to create a new, smart headlight. Learn more about smart headlight technology3.

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1. Griffith, M.S. Comparison of the Safety of Lighting Options on Urban Freeways. FHWA-RD-94-188. 1995. McLean, VA: Federal Highway Administration

2. Bureau of Transportation Statistics. National House-­hold Travel Survey 2001 Highlights Report, BTS03-05.2003. Washington, DC: Department of Transportation. Available online at: http://www.rita.dot.gov/bts/sites/rita.dot.gov.bts/files/publications/highlights_of_the_2001_national_household_travel_survey/pdf/entire.pdf

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