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Virginia Tech students create "smart" brake lights for cars

Joshua Topolsky
March 26, 2008
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It's only taken about a million years, but someone has finally decided that improvements are possible in automobile braking lights. Students from Virginia Tech have developed a new system that can show not just whether you're stopping, but if you're slowing down, when you're about to stop, and how quickly you're pressing the pedal. The concept uses an array of horizontally arranged LED lights -- when you begin to slow, lights in the center glow orange, after a certain threshold side lights turn to red, and if you're slamming on the brake, they'll all flash red. The team, led by mechanical engineering Professor Mehdi Ahmadian, has plans for the system beyond the lab, though they speculate that it will be easier to add them as additional indicators on commercial vehicles at first. If this pans out, someday soon we may all be tailgating a totally psychedelic light show.

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