Progressive optics for side mirrors ends automobile blind spots without distorting view, experts say
These images illustrate the performance between the aspheric and progressive mirror (top) and the flat and progressive mirror (bottom). In (a), the standard aspheric mirror is shown with a blue line to indicate the boundary between the two zones. This illustrates the distortion between the two zones. In (b), the progressive prescription developed by the researchers demonstrates the improved transition between zones, eliminating the blind spot while still giving an undistorted view of objects at a distance. (c) This is the standard flat side view mirror compared with (d) the wider field of view of the progressive mirror. (Credit: Credit: Optics Letters.)
Jan. 28, 2013 — A new optical prescription for automobile side-view mirrors may eliminate the dreaded “blind spot” in traffic without distorting the perceived distance of cars approaching from behind. As described in a new paper in the Optical Society’s (OSA) journal Optics Letters, objects viewed in a mirror using the new design appear larger than in traditional side-view mirrors, so it’s easier to judge their following distance and speed.
Today’s motor vehicles in the United States use two different types of mirrors for the driver and passenger sides. The driver’s side mirror is flat so that objects viewed in it are undistorted and not optically reduced in size, allowing the operator to accurately judge an approaching-from-behind vehicle’s separation distance and speed. Unfortunately, the optics of a flat mirror also create a blind spot, an area of limited vision around a vehicle that often leads to collisions during merges, lane changes, or turns. The passenger side mirror, on the other hand, possesses a spherical convex shape. While the small radius of curvature widens the field of view, it also causes any object seen in it to look smaller in size and farther away than it actually is. Because of this issue, passenger side mirrors on cars and trucks in the United States must be engraved with the safety warning, “Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.” In the European Union, both driver and passenger side mirrors are aspheric (One that bulges more to one side than the other, creating two zones on the same mirror).The inner zone — the section nearest the door — has a nearly perfect spherical shape, while the outer zone — the section farthest from the door — becomes less and less curved toward the edges. The outer zone of this aspheric design also produces a similar distance and size distortion seen in spherical convex designs.
In an attempt to remedy this problem, some automotive manufacturers have installed a separate, small wide-angle mirror in the upper corner of side mirrors. This is a slightly domed square that provides a wide-angle view similar to a camera’s fisheye lens. However, drivers often find this system to be a distracting as well as expensive addition.
A simpler design for a mirror that would be free of blind spots, have a wide field of view, and produce images that are accurately scaled to the true size of an approaching object — and work for both sides of a vehicle — has been proposed by researchers Hocheol Lee and Dohyun Kim at Hanbat National University in Korea and Sung Yi at Portland State University in Oregon. Their solution was to turn to a progressive additive optics technology commonly used in “no-line multifocal” eyeglasses that simultaneously corrects myopia (nearsightedness) and presbyopia (reduced focusing ability).
“Like multifocal glasses that give the wearer a range of focusing abilities from near to far and everything in between, our progressive mirror consists of three resolution zones: one for distance vision, one for close-up viewing and a middle zone making the transition between the two,” says Lee. “However, unlike glasses where the range of focus is vertically stacked [from distance viewing on top to close-up viewing on bottom], our mirror surface is horizontally progressive.”
Lee says that a driver’s side mirror manufactured with his team’s new design would feature a curvature where the inner zone is for distance viewing and the outer zone is for near-field viewing to compensate for what otherwise would be blind spots. “The image of a vehicle approaching from behind would only be reduced in the progressive zone in the center,” Lee says, “while the image sizes in the inner and outer zones are not changed.”
The horizontal progressive mirror, Lee says, does have some problems with binocular disparity (the slight difference between the viewpoints of a person’s two eyes) and astigmatism (blurring of a viewed image due to the difference between the focusing power in the horizontal and vertical directions). These minor errors are a positive trade off, the researchers feel, to gain a mirror with a greatly expanded field of view, more reliable depth perception, and no blind spot.
To prove the merits of their design, the researchers used a conventional glass molding process to manufacture a prototype horizontal progressive mirror. They were able to produce a mirror with more than double the field of view of a traditional flat mirror.
Other wide-angle designs have also been proposed, but the new design described January 28 in the Optics Letters paper offers a particularly easy-to-manufacture approach to the problem of blind spots by seamlessly integrating just three zones.
The researchers claim that the manufacturing cost of their proposed mirror design would be cheaper than the mirror design with the added small wide-angle viewing section. Since mirror designs are stipulated by national automobile regulations, the new design would need to be approved for use in the United States before appearing on cars here.
Share this story on Facebook, Twitter, and Google:
Other social bookmarking and sharing tools:
[UPDATE 9/15/09]: Volkswagen’s Diesel-Hybrid L1 Concept Gets 170 MPG, Available by 2013
This is what a team of engineers can do when challenged to push the limits of fuel efficiency and technology. You may have already heard of VW’s 1-liter car, but take a closer look. It’s a sports-economy concept car produced a few years ago by VW engineers, to answer one big question: could they build a car that consumes less than 3 liters of fuel for every 100 km traveled?
It turns out they could, but they didn’t stop there. Instead, VW blew by that goal to create a car that uses only 1 liter of fuel for every 100 km. That’s 285 MPG.
To accomplish such a feat, VW’s engineers had to go back to the drawing board and start from scratch. They knew that fuel efficiency depends on aerodynamics and weight, so they created a bullet-shaped, ultra-lightweight (640 lbs) carbon-fiber car powered by a new, completely redesigned diesel engine. To save more weight, they didn’t even paint it:
Proper aerodynamics were key to the low fuel consumption. VW engineers knew they needed a small frontal area. This led to its unusually narrow, bullet-shaped body where the passenger sits behind the driver. As well, the car features an aircraft-like canopy, enclosed rear wheels, special flat carbon-fibre front wheel covers, and an aerodynamic underpan. Even the side cooling air inlets only open when the engine needs cooling, and otherwise stay closed. . .the 1-Litre-Car has an amazingly low coefficient of drag of 0.16 (a typical car has a drag coefficient of approximately 0.30 ).
Story Continues & More pictures -> Most Fuel Efficient Car: 285 MPG, Not A Hybrid
By Keith Barry
Next month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to declare that all vehicles must contain an event data recorder, known more commonly as a “black box.” The device, similar to those found in aircraft, records vehicle inputs and, in the event of a crash, provides a snapshot of the final moments before impact.
That snapshot could be viewed by law enforcement, insurance companies and automakers. The device cannot be turned off, and you’ll probably know little more about it than the legal disclosure you’ll find in the owner’s manual.
The pending mandate looks to some like a gross overreach of government authority, or perhaps an effort by Uncle Sam, the insurance industry and even the automakers to keep tabs on what drivers are doing. But if you’re driving a car with airbags, chances are there’s already one of these devices under your hood.
How much it affects you depends upon where you live and what data points it records. How much it will affect you in the future may depend on a new set of standards that spell out exactly what data is collected and who can access it.
An Incomplete Record
On August 17, 2002, two teenage girls in Pembroke Pines, Florida, died when their vehicle was struck by a Pontiac Firebird Firehawk driven by Edwin Matos. The girls were backing out of their driveway; investigators accessed the vehicle’s data recorder and discovered Matos had been traveling 114 mph in a residential area moments before impact.
Matos was convicted on two counts of manslaughter, but his lawyer appealed the admission of the data recorder evidence, arguing it may have malfunctioned because the car had been extensively modified. The attorney also argued the evidence was based on an evolving technology. The Florida Supreme Court upheld the conviction, however, establishing precedent in that state that data gleaned from event data recorders is admissible in court.
There are two important facts to note in this case. First, Matos was driving in Florida, one of 37 states with no statutes barring the disclosure of such data. While car companies initially claimed ownership of the data, courts eventually ruled that it belongs to vehicle owners and lessees. No federal laws govern access to black box data, and state laws eventually clarified how much data other parties could access.
“The state statutes, starting with one in California, arose out of consumer complaints about insurance companies getting the data without the vehicle owner even knowing that the data existed or had been accessed,” said Dorothy Glancy, a lawyer and professor at Santa Clara Law with extensive experience studying issues of privacy and transportation.
In most of the 13 other states, however, Matos’ black box data still would have been available to police officers armed with a warrant.
“Law enforcement generally has access to the data,” Glancy said.
The second important fact is that, though the court denied Matos’ appeal, the question of the data’s validity remained. Most manufacturers currently use proprietary systems that require specialized interpretation, and many individual event data recorders do not survive crashes intact. Other courts have ruled against the admission of the data.
Setting a Standard
The lack of uniformity concerns Tom Kowalick. He chairs the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers P1616 Standards Working Group on Motor Vehicle Event Data Recorders, one of three panels aiming to set universal standards for event data recorders (EDR).
“Until recently, there has been no industry-standard or recommended practice governing EDR format, method of retrieval, or procedure for archival,” Kowalick said. “Even for a given automaker, there may not be standardized format. This lack of standardization has been an impediment to national-level studies of vehicle and roadside crash safety.”
Standards proposed in 2008 would ensure that data once available only to automakers IS publicly accessible. The new standards would make accessibility universal and prevent data tampering such as odometer fraud.
“It also addresses concerns over privacy rights by establishing standards protecting data from misuse,” Kowalick said.
The standards also propose specific guidelines and technology to prevent the modification, removal or deactivation of an event data recorder.
Those regulations would, in theory, make black box data more reliable than what is currently collected. But they also would prevent drivers from controlling the collection of information — information that they own.
“I am not sure why consumers would want a system in their vehicles that they could not control,” Glancy said.
Story Continues -> Automotive Black Boxes
Drivers will be able to track pollen counts, check blood glucose levels
Computerworld – Ford announced on Wednesday that it is developing voice-controlled wireless technology that connects drivers to various health monitoring technology and services for things such as web-based allergen alerts, asthma management tools and diabetes control.
Ford said it’s developing its initial offering by working with medical device maker Medtronic, mobile health vendor WellDoc, and health analytics provider SDI Health, which developed the allergy website pollen.com. Pollen.com tracks pollen counts around the U.S.
Ford is leveraging its SYNC technology, a factory-installed, in-car communications and entertainment system developed with Microsoft. The voice-operated SYNC system, which uses Bluetooth to connect wireless devices, is offered in 12 different Ford, Lincoln and Mercury models.
Through SYNC and its technology partnerships Ford developed a blood glucose monitoring capability, location-based allergy and pollen alerts and voice-controlled, cloud-based health management services.
“Ford SYNC is well known in the industry and with consumers as a successful in-car infotainment system, but we want to broaden the paradigm, transforming SYNC into a tool that can also help improve people’s lives as well as the driving experience,” Paul Mascarenas, chief technology officer at Ford’s Research and Innovation division.
The mobile research firm Research2Guidance says that smartphone apps are set to become the killer health care product, as a research report projects that about 500 million people will be using them within five years.
According to the Global Mobile Health Market Report 2010-2015, compiled by Research2Guidance, more than a third of 1.4 billion smartphone users in 2015 will be running some kind of mobile health care application.
The major app stores, such as Apple‘s, are now housing as many as 17,000 available health apps for download, with nearly 60% of those aimed at consumers rather than health care professionals, says Research2Guidance.
“Wireless health provides an unprecedented ability for monitoring and promotion of health and wellness for all individuals,” William Kaiser, Professor of Electrical Engineering at UCLA, said in a statement.
Article Continues -> Ford Developing in=car health monitoring tech
Tiffany Kaiser – May 19, 2011 7:02 AM
Lexus Hybrid cab drivers hope their vehicles will be grandfathered into the hybrid program, but it seems unlikely as NY clears the roads for the newly adopted Taxi of Tomorrow winner, the Nissan NV200
The New York Taxi and Limousine Commission have passed new regulations prohibit the use of Lexus taxi cabs because they are “too powerful.”
The city of New York has over 13,000 cabs in operation, where the Ford Crown Victoria reigns supreme accounting for more than half of the city’s taxis. But that is about to change since the Taxi and Limousine Commission just selected the Nissan NV200 as the Taxi of Tomorrow, which is an effort to encourage the adoption of environmentally friendly vehicles.
Despite New York’s plan to integrate hybrid vehicles into the taxi system until all the cabs are hybrids, there is a certain hybrid vehicle that doesn’t make the cut: the Lexus.
Out of 13,000 cabs cruising NY city streets, only six of them are Lexus models. These hybrid models are the Lexus RX 400h or the RX 450h, and they cost over $40,000 per vehicle.
The Lexus taxi first came about in 2006 when a taxi fleet was testing these particular models. These vehicles were modified for taxi use with additions like roof lights, a camera and of course, a yellow paint job.
Cliff Adler was the first to drive a Lexus taxi. He then persuaded his friend Samuel Pekoh to drive one as well.
Later, four more Lexus taxi drivers were added to the list, including Sushil Maggoo, Neil Newmark, Shmuel Poper and Ilya Atanelov.
Together, these six cab drivers make up an elite force of Lexus enthusiasts, and care for their vehicles very much. Customers are not to slam their doors or put their bags on the leather seats, but it’s the extra care that draws customers to these luxury vehicles. The drivers have sometimes received tips as much as 50 to 100 percent of the cab fare, and a couple of the men even mentioned driving their kids to school in style using their Lexus cabs.
In a city full of $28,000 Crown Victoria’s whipping around street corners and battling loads of traffic, one might wonder why a cabbie would pay so much money for a Lexus cab. The cab drivers note that they do not make more money in fares and tips, but rather, they bought the vehicles for two reasons: individuality and health.
There are thousands of yellow cabs on the streets of New York, so cabbies are constantly trying to make their cars stick out and attract more business. Most of the time, cab drivers use bumper stickers to stand out amongst the crowd, but with a Lexus, Newmark notes that the unique factor is a no-brainer.
“A cab driver is dying for individuality,” said Newmark. “I sort of feel like a celebrity.”
Lexus cabs also offer a more comfortable ride, which is important for physical health when cabbies are driving over deep potholes and sitting in traffic for long periods of time. Newmark, in particular, notes that the Lexus’ smooth ride helps him manage knee pain.
In addition, the six Lexus drivers noted that their vehicles require less maintenance than most other hybrid vehicles.
But recently, the NY Taxi and Limousine Commission passed regulations that forbid the Lexus taxicab from roaming New York City streets. The reason for this ban is because the vehicle are “too powerful.”
Of course, the Lexus cab drivers disagree with the Taxi and Limousine Commission, and hope their vehicles will be grandfathered into the hybrid program.
“If I’m willing to spend the money on a Lexus, why won’t they let me?” said Mr. Newmark.
As of right now, the Lexus cabbies plan to enjoy the time they have left with their vehicles until they must be retired. Cabs are typically retired after a three to seven year period depending on the vehicle, but a Lexus cab has a six-year cab life. Adler will have to retire his vehicle next year, and Atanelov, who was the most recent Lexus cab buyer, said he plans to retire along with his Lexus when the time comes.
The Taxi and Limousine Commission plans to clear out most varieties of cabs in anticipation of the newly adopted Nissan NV200.