Jaguar Land Rover says it’s cured the problem of vehicle blind spots using external cameras and internal screens to give drivers a 360-degree view of what’s happening outside of the vehicle. It’s similar to the technology British firm CPI recently touted for windowless aircraft, but in this case it’s a safety feature that would make pedestrians, cyclists and other cars more visible to drivers.
Jaguar Land Rover, which is owned by India’s Tata Motors, didn’t say when or even if it will introduce the technology in its vehicles. Recent technological innovations like this tend to be introduced first as profit-margin-widening luxury-car features before trickling down to mass-produced vehicles.
The so-called 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen embed a layer of OLED screen on the car’s “pillars” – the chunky visibility-blocking body panels supporting a vehicle’s roof – that are connected to external cameras and motion sensors. When the car is stopped at an intersection and detects pedestrians, the pillar screens are activated, making them appear transparent. They deactivate after the car starts moving again.
When drivers turn their heads to check rear blind spots, cameras linked to side pillar screen are activated to offer greater visibility while making lane changes. The vehicle’s entire windshield also acts as a head’s up display highlighting stoplights and even places of interest (landmarks, parking garages). The so-called “Follow Me” Ghost Car Navigation even puts a virtual car in front of you to follow when using the car’s navigation feature, ideal for use in crowded urban driving conditions where turns are easily missed.
Earlier this year Jaguar’s sibling Land Rover displayed similar proof-of-concept technology that makes the front end “transparent” and displays what's right in front and just under the front end of the vehicle. In addition to displaying the vehicle’s pitch and roll angles as it navigated rough terrain, the “transparent hood” heads up display allows drivers in off-road conditions to see otherwise-hidden terrain obstacles like rocks and more precisely steer the front wheels, which improves the off-roading driving experience.