Continental has developed a virtual A-pillar which can help eliminate forward blind spots and thus minimize the risk of accidents. The A-pillars refer to the front support pillars in a vehicle which support the windshield and serve as the base for the roof of the vehicle. It does obstruct the view of the driver to some extent. In order to comply with norms regarding rollover safety and roof-crush standards, these pillars have become bigger thus posing more risk when it comes to visibility of other road users.
Commenting on the virtual A-pillar, Dr Karsten Michels, head of Systems and Technology — interior division, Continental, said that the development of the pillar was driven by the desire to increase the safety of all road users. Continental used advanced technologies to come up with this solution that eliminates the forward blind spots of the A-pillars, and thus helped to reduce a critical safety hazard which so many road users experience.
In some scenarios, depending on width of the pillar, a linear distance of over 36 inches can be obstructed at just 12 feet from the pillar and this increases as the distance from the vehicle grows. Thus, the design of the A-pillar is very important when trying to increase the driver’s forward field of view.
While vehicles need widened front pillars to meet mandatory safety testing requirements, the use of new flexible OLED displays and advanced head tracking can enhance visibility from the driver’s view. Currently, drivers compensate for the lack of forward vision by adjusting their position while driving. The Virtual A-Pillar uses an interior camera that is mounted just above the steering wheel to track these movements. There is another camera, Continental’s SurroundView camera, which is mounted on the vehicle’s exterior, which provides a live video of the vehicle’s external environment to the OLED displays embedded in the A-pillars.
The virtual A-pillar thus tracks the driver’s head movements and pairs it with the exterior live image, to offer the driver a dynamic perspective, and the experience for the driver is more like looking through an extended ‘window’ rather than at a live video feed.
Enhanced safety for vulnerable road users
“This new technology allows the driver to see pedestrians and other vehicles approaching from the left and right, which would have otherwise been blocked by the A-pillar,” Michels added.
With the advancements of camera and display technology, Continental says its virtual A-pillar will allow the driver to maintain a direct line of sight when turning left or right, providing additional safety for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.
Hamid Moaref has always been fascinated by cars and the automotive industry. His family has a longstanding association with the industry and has been in the tire business for the past 35 years. Raised in Dubai, Hamid attended Capilano University in Vancouver where he graduated with a BBA in marketing before attending an intensive course in magazine publishing in 2005. He has been the publisher and chief editor of Tires & Parts magazine for the past ten years.
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