Carnegie Mellon smart headlight prototype blacks out raindrops for clearer view of the road

Researchers from Carnegie Mellon have developed a prototype smart headlight which blots out individual drops of rain or snow -- improving vision by up to 90 percent. Made with an off-the-shelf Viewsonic DLP projector, a quad-core Intel Core-i7 PC and a GigE Point Grey Flea3 camera, the Rube Goldberg-esque process starts by first imaging raindrops arriving at the top of its view. After this, the signal goes to a processing unit, which uses a predictive theory developed by the team to guess the drops' path to the road. Finally, the projector -- found in the same place as the camera -- uses a beamsplitter like modern digital 3D rigs. Used in tandem with calculations, it transmits a beam with light voids matching the predicted path. The result? It all stops light from hitting the falling particles, with the cumulative process resulting in the illusion of a nearly precipitation-free road view -- at least in the lab. So far, the whole process takes about a hundredth of a second (13 ms) but scientists said that in an actual car and with many more drops, the speed would have to be about ten times quicker. That would allow 90 percent of the light located 13 feet in front of the headlights to pass through, but even at just triple the speed, it would give drivers a 70 percent better view. To see if this tech might have a snowflake's chance of making it out of the lab, go past the break for all the videos.