The biennial VISION congress was an important success with 230 participants, 32 presentations chaired by top experts in the field, and illustrative night-drive tests on a closed race track in rain that could have been made to order just for the occasion.
There was some general and interesting info on accidentology, an important field tangent upon the driver vision systems we work with in our field.
The main paper presentations covered the technology, technique, and evolution of lighting and driver assistance systems. A common thread for these was the “road map” rubric currently being adopted for most product and system development projects.
The night drives were done in very rainy weather, and they clearly demonstrated the superiority of technology newer than the prevalent tungsten-halogen; driving with halogen headlamps requires great speed reductions in the rain to maintain safety. There is some improvement with halogen AFS, motorway and cornering light, but not nearly as much as with even non-AFS HID lamps. Driving with Xenon lights is comfortable and feels safe even under heavy rain. LED headlamps are evolving rapidly in light quantity and quality.
Overall, the night drives proved that lighting is a crucial safety component and it is important to acknowledge the limits of halogen lighting in adverse weather conditions.
The 2nd interest of night drives was in relation to driver assistance. Quite simply, detection of pedestrians at real-world driving speeds at night is almost impossible without DA.
A very graphic example was presented in the form of a BMW equipped with Autoliv’s IR-based pedestrian detection system. In adverse conditions, night and rain, the driver needs help to drive with safety. Driver assistance systems are available now, and are getting better all the time. Their adoption must be pushed hard for all classes of vehicles, not just in premium cars.
The 3 main conclusions of the congress emphasized by the night drives were:
1) Lighting systems and driver assistance systems are deeply linked.
2) Driving at night without Xenon (or LED in the future) is dangerous.
3) Driver assistance systems can help a lot to detect obstacles and pedestrians.