The problem with driving in the rain at night is not that headlights aren't bright enough. They're actually too bright, the reflections off the raindrops momentarily blinding the driver.

Some folks smarter than us at Carnegie Mellon have figured out a way to minimize the reflection effect using some pretty high-tech gear. They combined cameras and computers to predict the trajectory of each rain drop. That's impressive enough right there. But how does that help improve visibility in dark, rainy conditions?

"If you know where the rain drops are, you can sort of stream light between them," says lead researcher Srinivasa Narasimhan. This statement, as you might imagine, garners healthy giggles from the audience. But that's exactly what these scientists have achieved.

In place of automotive headlights, these researchers used Digital Light Processing chips to shine light between rain drops. At about 18 mph, they've been able to reduce glare from rain drops by 70 loss of light intensity. Snowflakes are larger and slower and therefore more difficult to track, which means 15 of the snowflakes are avoided.

Don't look for this to show up on your next car any time soon, though. Several hurdles need to be overcome before it's ready for prime time. The current system loses effectiveness at higher speeds and can't adjust for turbulence or vibrations. But they're working on it.

Watch the video below.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 20 Comments
      Andre Neves
      • 2 Years Ago
      Now THAT'S an invention! Refreshing actually when all you hear is news on ways to tweet or update your Facebook status while driving or connecting this and that.
      Hazdaz
      • 2 Years Ago
      Wow, the computation involved to calculate for all those rain drops is amazing. Props to these guys for some really novel thinking.
      Paul Kane
      • 2 Years Ago
      Gotta love the genius of refactoring something largely unchanged and improving it dramatically in the process.
      breakfastburrito
      • 2 Years Ago
      True innovation. Combined with nano-glass, will save many lives in my kid's generation.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @breakfastburrito
        [blocked]
      LW
      • 2 Years Ago
      useless when the guy behind you has his high beams on and lights up everything these lights are trying to avoid.
      KAG
      • 2 Years Ago
      Be cool if it really works, the worst is trying to see through bad snow.
      maxcranium
      • 2 Years Ago
      Forget about the rain, hurry up and let the car drive itself. I'm tired of driving, or should I say moving out of the way of the other guys car coming at me... ~ Have a nice day! ~
      ronband
      • 2 Years Ago
      Sunglasses at night cut the glare and use them any time it is raining. It improves visability, particularly when you are using highbeams. You get the vision but not the glare. Try it...I promise it works. I have been doing it for years.
      tylermars.design
      • 2 Years Ago
      This should be useful, especially since I never travel at over 18mph.
        breakfastburrito
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tylermars.design
        So YOU'RE the prius driver blocking my commute!
        ACURA23CL
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tylermars.design
        LOL!!!
        taybrego31
        • 2 Years Ago
        @tylermars.design
        You should live in the Seattle area where drivers freak out and throw on studded snow tires at the first whisper of "a chance of snow," and don't take em off til early June. Their average speed on I-5 is about 11mph when there's only a light dusting of 1/32 of an inch of powder. And these are Subies (60% of the cars on the road >_<) and Quattro-equipped Audis...and they'd absolutely love these headlights.
      David S.
      • 2 Years Ago
      They got the giggles over the word "stream"? Clearly new to the auto industry. We've been making peepee jokes about clean diesel since at least the early 2000s.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Jdvm
      • 2 Years Ago
      Im no where near as smart as these people, but shouldnt something bigger and slower be easier to track?
        FiveOverCrest
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Jdvm
        The trajectory of a snowflake isn't as constant as that of a raindrop. It's not the tracking part that's difficult but predicting where it will go.
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