“Transparent??? Car Promises Greater Safety

New optical technology can help make a vehicle virtually transparent, potentially reducing the risk of accidents.

Statistics show that nearly 840,000 car accidents are caused by drivers failing to see other vehicles or pedestrians in their blind spots. Now, Japanese researchers have developed a system that affords drivers a 360-degree view of the world around them, virtually eliminating dangerous blind spots.

But if you’ve got visions of a road-worthy version of Wonder Woman’s invisible jet, you’re a little off base. A project of the Graduate School of Media Design at Keio University, the “transparent” Toyota Prius isn’t a see-thru ride, but instead employs a projection system that makes the car’s backseat and side panels appear completely transparent to the driver.

The system involves cameras mounted to the outside of the car that sends images to an onboard computer and displays them via a projector. The projector also features a lens array, half-mirror and retro-reflective screen. The system lends the driver a straight view of everything going on around the car. This innovative technology allows a driver to see through passengers in the back seat to the road behind them and to see multiple angles around the car simultaneously – a factor that could significantly reduce the number of automobile accidents.

Designers say the technology can be used in other modes of transportation, including airplanes. And, it has other potential uses, too. Potential examples include projecting MRI scans onto patients during surgery or giving interior rooms an outside view without windows.

We here at E3 Spark Plus consider this technology one of the coolest and most promising we’ve seen yet. What do you think? Would you install the system in your ride? Post your thoughts on the E3 Spark Plugs Facebook Fan Page.