What If You Coud See Through Cars?

 see through system  CMU Portugal researchers have developed a See-Through System (STS) that lets you peer through the car you are trailing, enhancing the visibility of the road ahead. The technology is one of the outcomes of DRIVE-IN (Distributed Routing and Infotainment through Vehicular Inter-Networking), a project carried out as part of the CMU Portugal Program and funded by the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia (FCT). Michel Ferreira, researcher at Faculdade de Ciências of the Universidade do Porto (FCUP) and Instituto de Telecomunicações (IT), believes that the STS has the potential to change inter-vehicular communications in the future, and to contribute to reduce car accidents. 

Overtaking long vehicles can be dangerous due to their length and to the low visibility. With STS, the driver “sees” the oncoming vehicle while staying behind a bus, for example, and can safely overtake it. How? In an ideal scenario, large vehicles will drive with a forward-facing webcam on their windscreen, while cars have a transparent LCD screen on their windscreen, which allows the driver to see what the road in front of the large vehicle looks like.

“These windshield cameras will someday be very common and I envision them eventually becoming a standard on every car,” says Michel Ferreira. “But besides letting cars simply communicate with each other, the STS can also be deployed as a procedure of augmented reality, enabling you to see through cars,” he added.

The technology uses low-latency video streaming and dedicated short-range communication (DSRC), allowing for synthetic vision of the road ahead. The image shown on the driver’s windscreen has a delay of 200 milliseconds, which means that it shows an incoming car 10 meters closer than it actually is, if both drivers are moving at 90 kilometers per hour.

Michel Ferreira leads the development of the overtaking assistance system, with the collaboration of other researchers from IT, Fausto Vieira, Michelle Krüger Silvéria, and the doctoral student Pedro Gomes. Their work was presented at the International Symposium on Mixed and Augmented Reality in Australia, in October 2013. The presentation and the demo were very successful, and have been covered in several news pieces worldwide, since then.

The system has been already tested in a driving simulator, and on the road, and can be seen running on this video.

November 2013