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GUI Displays Transportation Technology

GM Working On Interactive Windshields 307

this_boat_is_real writes "Rather than project info onto a portion of the windshield, GM's latest experiment uses the entire windshield as a display. Small ultraviolet lasers project data gleaned from sensors and cameras onto the glass. General Motors geeks are working alongside researchers from several universities to develop a system that integrates night vision, navigation and on-board cameras to improve our ability to see — and avoid — problems, particularly in adverse conditions like fog."
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GM Working On Interactive Windshields

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  • As in the movie, not the BASIC command. Seriously, that's what the mockup (I'm assuming it's a mockup) looks like...Tron-mode.

    This has some real potential, I hope it isn't another bit of vaporware....

    • How is this better than, say, a few LCD screens?
      • by Pojut ( 1027544 )

        Since it overlays the entire windshield, you wouldn't have to take your eyes off the road. If they had a small LCD that had video of the road with this superimposed over it, you would have to stop looking at the road and look at the screen, which would be dangerous for obvious reasons (not the least of which would be lag time..."objects in screen are closer than they appear", and all that.)

        Then again, it would make windshield repairs quite costly...

    • Actually GM already has this available in a HUD system on High End Models. They've combined Low-Light Camera's with IR Features that activate with the headlights. It's purpose is to provide a clearer veiw of what's in front of you during the night. Guess what, it works quite well and is one hell of a safety feature that I want on all cars.

  • Camaro? (Score:3, Funny)

    by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:46AM (#31521408) Journal

    Can I get these laser beams on a Camaro Shark?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:49AM (#31521432)

    "Wow, it's like those other cars are coming right towards me!"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:55AM (#31521492)

    It looks like you are trying to crash.
    Would you like to
    ( ) Buy more insurance
    ( ) Change your beneficiary

    It gives new meaning to BSOD.

  • by Michael_gr ( 1066324 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @08:56AM (#31521500)
    And the Blue Windshield of Death will actually cause your death.
  • by dpilot ( 134227 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:00AM (#31521538) Homepage Journal

    I live west of my place of employment, and the recent time change has given me it's yearly double-whammy. When you live west of where you work, it means that you're driving east in the morning to get there, and west in the evening to get home. Depending on start and stop times, it means that the sun can be right on the horizon, blinding you at both times. This happens for a few weeks each spring and fall, until the sun rises earlier and sets later, so that the visor can adequately and easily block it. Then time change comes, knocking the sun back down to the horizon.

    I want an "active windshield" that knows where my eyeballs are, knows where the sun is, and blackens just the right spot (with a little margin, of course) to shade my eyes. Compared to that, any heads-up displays are secondary.

    • by Whalou ( 721698 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:18AM (#31521722)
      So... you want sunglasses?
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      I want an "active windshield" that knows where my eyeballs are, knows where the sun is, and blackens just the right spot (with a little margin, of course) to shade my eyes. Compared to that, any heads-up displays are secondary.

      That's really *really* hard tech. Tracking the location of your eyeballs in 3D is very tricky, especially if you're wearing glasses, a brimmed hat, or anything similar that might confuse a visual identification system. You could have special glasses that identified your position (cf

  • by number17 ( 952777 )
    Awesome now I can enjoy handsfree video chat!!
  • by rossdee ( 243626 )

    Its called a HUD (Heads Up Display) - jet fighters have had this sort of thing for a few decades.

    • And I for one want my car to cost around $45 million dollars (approx F-16 e/f cost)
    • ...and as installed in cars for at least 10 years .....

      Really you can already buy or build a HUD for your car now ...

      this is just :

      a) built in
      b) using the whole windscreen rather than a small part of it

  • How about first... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Making "decent", efficiant, cars before working on further power drains.... I would love a car with a better alloy of steel, or even perhaps frames of aluminium bronze, with lightweight plastic coverings.... Immune to rusting out after five years.... And maybe a decent engine. Or go the path of Honda.... Build an electric car as you want it: the best motors, interior, etc, but instead of a ton of batteries, use a fuel cell to hold the energy in the form of quick to refuel hydrogen.... If a battery can ever

    • Hydrogen needs to be cooled to -192F with a high power drain active cooling system using liquid nitrogen, otherwise it leaks out of a steel storage tank.
  • Old news (Score:2, Informative)

    by SirGarlon ( 845873 )
    This is nothing new. I saw a concept video of something similar from GM in 1994. From TFA:

    General Motors has been fiddling around with head-up displays for 22 years now


    GM has no immediate plans to offer the technology in production models, but Seder says some of features could appear in vehicles at some point.

    Yeah, "could" appear "at some point." This is epic vaporware. Maybe spending millions researching cool gadgets and never bringing them to market is part of the reason GM went bankrupt.

    • Now, now, GM never went bankrupt, and never declared that they were insolvent (although they clearly were). Maybe knowing that the State will bankroll them whenever it's necessary is the reason why they spend millions researching cool gadgets and never bring them to market.
    • by jandrese ( 485 )
      Yeah, I've seen basically this article about once every 5 years for 20 years now. IIRC they've never figured out a way to make it reliable and cost effective.
  • Its most importantly the roads and drivers.. Drivers being one of the hardest things to fix but roads being the expensive thing to fix. Some roads are great, but some are destined to claim the lives of hundreds of people over the life span of the road.

    What i don't get, is why we don't engineer our roads to be safer? If you build a road between a valley and there are 100 deer accidents a year, don't you think it would have been better to have built a raised road so the deer can go under the road and thro

    • R030A Bridgestone performance summer wet-dry tires (don't use in snow; get performance winter tires for that) will hold onto the road like nothing, rain or shine, no hydroplaning. They hold up for a while. They're suitable for racing... in the rain. They also costs $150+ each; $30 tires that float around when it rains are more appealing to consumers, because what do I need fancy tires for?
    • ..Roads are cheap in contrast to lives

      But the people who maintain the road do not pay anything when you die ... so roads look expensive to them

    • If you build a road between a valley and there are 100 deer accidents a year, don't you think it would have been better to have built a raised road so the deer can go under the road and through the only choke point in the entire valley rather then get themselves killed and a few humans while they're at it?

      It's a lot cheaper and easier to just shoot all the deer and build a normal road.

  • Unless this is done VERY carefully, I'm afraid it'll just end up distracting most drivers. Yes, head-up displays have existed in fighter jets, etc. for decades, but those pilots are highly trained to process all the data given to them. Throw an average driver into a car that suddenly starts highlighting road signs, etc. and you risk distracting him. What happens if the system freaks out as you drive down a street with tons of road signs? You could end up flooding the windshield with lots of neon lines a

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      You could simply put in sanity checks for the number of highlighted entities/on-screen information density. Each type of displayed object having a priority and a weight, based on screen area covered, distance to other objects, and such...
    • It will become white noise just like banner adds on web-pages before add block, road signs are off to the side and are not a primary focus point if anything it will condition people to only focus on whats directly ahead of them.
  • I'm still waiting for the "Back to the Future" cars to start surfacing. We were promised those cars over 20 years ago. Where are they?

    Oh, and "hover boards"... Where are they? I don't see 'em...

    When, GM? When will you give me what I want?!?!

    No government funds for you!

    • by ArcherB ( 796902 )

      I'm still waiting for the "Back to the Future" cars to start surfacing.

      DeLoreans [] have been around for years. The company started in 1975 and went bankrupt in 1982.

  • How do they draw a line that represents the edge of the road without knowing the exact position of the drivers eyes? This is just half of the puzzle.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Actually that's a pretty easy problem to solve, given that there's never more than one driver. A headband would be an obvious solution, but there are at least 5 that would work fine.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by happylight ( 600739 )
      That doesn't sound very hard. You can figure out where the driver's eyes are by the orientation of the rare view and side view mirrors. On that note, since you're supposed to adjust those mirrors before you start driving, it's just one more thing to adjust before you drive off.
    • by asylumx ( 881307 )
      This is described in TFA in the video. They have cameras tracking the driver and analyzing their position so that they can adjust the visuals accordingly. What I want to know is how crazy this looks to the passengers!
  • by SharpFang ( 651121 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:18AM (#31521720) Homepage Journal

    It can improve safety of driving in poor weather conditions immensely comparing to current situation. But I'm afraid it will have a reverse effect in reality: increasing driver's confidence ("the HUD displays the road far ahead, so there is no danger") will result in increasing the speed in these conditions, and result in more serious accidents because the system can't foresee everything - obstacles on the road, slippery surface, other cars that don't have it and drive blindly - the kind of accidents slow and cautious driving would help against, or at least minimize impact.

    • by natehoy ( 1608657 ) on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:41AM (#31521988) Journal

      That's what scares me, too. It's like 4WD here in Maine - if you go down the highway after a snowstorm, you'll pretty much see only two types of cars - very small light cars and SUVs. The former because the cars simply can't handle the conditions, and the latter because some 4X4 drivers became severely overconfident in the capabilities of their vehicle and think 4X4 is some form of magic glue that sticks the wheels to the road. The 4x4s are the ones that get really banged up, because their drivers have been running at or above the speed limit.

      That and the possibility of some sort of malfunction at an ill-timed moment. A bunch of drivers tootling down the highway in deep fog, all tailgating one another just like they do in clear conditions, and the second car in line has his sensors hit by a rock kicked up by the first car, and it knocks the sensors off kilter or out of order. Second driver is now completely blind in heavy traffic.

      If used to enhance defensive driving, this kind of system could be really useful. Especially using senses like IR to detect problems that may not be very visible (pedestrian in dark clothing walking up to crosswalk at night) or providing useful safety information (paint the 3-foot barrier line around the cyclist, and estimate whether you have enough room to safely pass him based on the speed of oncoming traffic in the opposing lane). Combine this with GPS to "mark" the road you want to drive down, and maybe even "paint" the road names on roads you are passing by, and turn-by-turn GPS is suddenly a lot less distracting.

      But that's not how it's going to be used, at least not exclusively. For every driver using this as additional information while driving at a speed they can support without the enhancements, you'll have at least one that turn the system on, put the "Top Gun" soundtrack in, crank it to 11, and drive down the highway in 20-foot-visibility fog at 70MPH following the painted lines.

      • I'm from Buffalo and went to school in Rochester (Western New York), and one of my greatest pleasures during those years was driving home and back after or during a big snowstorm. I had a ten-year-old FWD Saturn - really not a great car to drive on snow and ice - but I learned to drive in cheap cars in snow and ice so I know how to handle it. I would often drive somewhere when it was really bad specifically because I knew I could, I didn't really care if the car got damaged, and I knew there wouldn't be any

        • Why the thruway is designed with ditches on both sides I'm not really sure, when I know the designers understood about snow and ice making people run off the road, but it sure makes a great trap for cars.

          You've just answered your own question. I'm assuming by "ditches" you mean relatively gentle embankments, and not severe dropoffs.

          If a car loses control at 65MPH on ice, it's a spinning hunk of metal ready to take out anything in its path, and that path will rarely line up with the direction of the road.

          If you put a guardrail the side of the road, that vehicle will bounce back into traffic. You only want guardrails in places where it is MORE dangerous to go off the road (severe dropoff, going over a bridg

      • by asylumx ( 881307 )
        Huh... It's like IFR for driving. Except when you're a pilot, you have to have very specific training before you're allowed to try it. Oh, and there are a lot more obstacles on the ground than there are in the air!
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by moonbender ( 547943 )

        turn the system on, put the "Top Gun" soundtrack in, crank it to 11, and drive down the highway in 20-foot-visibility fog at 70MPH following the painted lines

        Man, now I really want to do this.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      We see that now with four wheel drive SUVs, which are inevitably the ones you see that have gone off the road when it snows because the jackasses think their four wheel drive makes them invulnerable. They quickly discover that physics is a harsh mistress.
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Agreed. Also note that the "edge of road" projection from the pictures in TFA isn't exactly all that accurate. You could easily end up going off the road if you put too much trust in it...

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *

    I still won't buy a car from them.

  • Perfect (Score:3, Funny)

    by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Thursday March 18, 2010 @09:26AM (#31521814)
    Now I can install a stock market app on my windshield that lets me watch GM stock fall in real time.
  • Allow people to better see in fog and they will drive faster.
    • Allow people to better see in fog and they will drive faster.

      I watched a documentary some time ago that investigated the cause of multi-car ("multi" being hundreds of cars) pileups in heavy fog conditions that occur every few years. Turns out that when people are driving and lose sense of their surroundings, they actually accelerate. Counter-intuitive to be sure, but the evidence (simulated driving tests, interviews with witnesses, psychologists, etc.) presented in the documentary was fairly convincing.


      • My hunch (backed by no research or anything else) is that it's a fear response -- the faster I drive, the sooner I will be out of the fog.

  • not with lasers, but it's great for navigation commands and speed display.
  • but does it run linux...

    I want mine to run GTA ... and witness the havoc that ensues...

  • for this kind of windshield display to block out oncoming headlights. All too often, oncoming headlights are so bright that it blocks my ability to see the road in front of me. If it was possible to selectively block out bright lights (when not near railroad crossings of course), it would be so much nicer to drive at night. I know this will never come to market though because it is a technology that is begging to malfunction.

  • I bought a GM car in 1998 partly because it had a heads up display. I have to say that it was awesome. For those that are talking about the distraction factor, you shouldn't opine unless you've used one. My display was on a Grand Prix GTP and there isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss that car.

    The HUD on that car was done by reflecting an LCD display into the windshield. It displayed way more than just your speed. It gave you the outside temperature (excellent for the season in New England wher
  • I live in the SanFrancisco area and I must admit the drivers out here are worse than in Boston or NewYork. Not because they are aggressive (which they are not), but because of the distractions. I see drivers with earbuds in, blocking their ability to hear another car and it's horn; having to fiddle with the DVD player for the kids in the back; programming the neverlost/mapping/GPS software on their console; and trying to make a call on their hands free handset.

    Shit, most drive automatics anyhow, so their

  • Cadillac and I believe a few Buick and Oldsmobile cars have had a simpler version of this for at least a decade now. In certain models of these cars, your direction and speed are projected onto the lower part of the windshield directly in front of the driver. Sure it's simple, but I was actually very fond of being able to see how fast I was going without having to look down at the dashboard. I look forward to seeing what else they can do with this as long as it doesn't become yet another distraction from
  • I predict driving will be completely automated by the end of the century. The only HUD you'll need will be will be for your email (or whatever replaces it by then) notifications & RSS feeds if you're watching the scenery go by.

If graphics hackers are so smart, why can't they get the bugs out of fresh paint?