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Intel headlights can see through rain

Intel has developed a new car headlight system that could make it easier to see the road ahead in the event of a deluge. The technolocy essentially fires beams of light ‘around’ rain drops, better illuminating the road ahead. 

Traditional headlights are designed to fire beams of light at the road ahead, illuminating a driver’s path. However their effectiveness is reduced during rainfall, as water droplets have a tendency to scatter beams of light in all directions, including back at the driver, reducing visibility.

Intel’s system uses a digital camera to establish the location of rain drops and passes this information to onboard software that predicts where those droplets will fall within a driver’s field of vision. If offending rain drops in the car’s path are detected, the system imperceptibly switches the headlights on and off for a fraction of a second, reducing glare, while continuing to illuminate bits of the road that aren’t shrouded by drops of rain, hail or show.

John Tomkins, an Intel engineer, said: “Even though the light is slightly diminished from the headlight (while some rays are switched off), it is being diminished from the areas that would otherwise be distracting to the driver.

“When you eliminate the reflection from the rain, then you are able to see through the rain and see the road much more clearly.

“I would hope this could save lives on the roads though obviously the rain is still hitting your windscreen.”

According to Intel, anyone driving a car equipped with the system can expect a 70 per cent improvement in visibility, although the system becomes less effective at high speeds.

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