GM Working to Develop Advanced Head-Up Display Technology; Would Span Entire Width of Windshield

March 17, 2010

General Motors' research and development department, along with several universities, are working on a system that would use data gathered from an array of vehicle sensors and cameras and project images generated by compact ultraviolet lasers directly onto the entire surface of the windshield, according to a release issued by the auto manufacturer today.

"We're looking to create enhanced vision systems," says Thomas Seder, group lab manager-GM research and development.

Seder is working with Carnegie Mellon University and The University of Southern California, as well as other institutions, to create a full windshield head-up system to use night vision, navigation and camera-based sensor technologies to improve driver visibility and object detection ability.

"Let's say you're driving in fog, we could use the vehicle's infrared cameras to identify where the edge of the road is and the lasers could 'paint' the edge of the road onto the windshield so the driver knows where the edge of the road is," Seder says.

To create the system, the windshield is coated with a series of transparent phosphors which emit visible light when excited by a light beam-in this case from a compact laser-and it becomes a large area transparent display. (Though several head-up display systems already are in existence today, most of these utilize only a small part of the windshield-while this one uses the entire surface.)

"This design is superior to traditional head down display-based night vision systems, which require a user to read information from a traditional display, create a mental model and imagine the threat's precise location in space," Seder says.

As an added safety feature, the head-up system can be combined with automated sign- reading technology, similar to the Opel Eye system that debuted on the 2009 Opel Insignia, to alert the driver if they are driving over the posted speed limit or if there's impending construction or other potential problems ahead. Additionally, the system can use navigation system data to alert the driver of their desired exit by reading overhead traffic signs.

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