Cadillac Introduces "Night Vision" Technology

MONTREAL (January 16, 2000) - Highlighted today at the Cadillac display at the Montreal Auto Show was the "Night Vision" technology, a significant safety advancement. Night Vision, available on the all-new 2000 Cadillac DeVille DHS and DTS sedans, is the world's first automotive application of a thermal-imaging technology that can assist drivers in seeing objects beyond headlight range during nighttime driving.

"We believe that the DeVille's Night Vision technology is perhaps the most significant new technology as we enter the 21st Century," said Steve O'Reilly, Assistant Zone Manager for General Motors' Quebec Zone," and we believe it will dramatically change what we expect from the cars we buy."

Improving vision at night is an important safety advancement. While nighttime driving represents only 28 percent of total driving, it accounts for about 55 percent of all traffic fatalities. Of all pedestrian fatalities, about two-thirds occur at night. In addition, there are thousands of vehicle-deer collisions each year, many of which could be avoided with more time to react to the hazard.

While Night Vision is not meant to replace a driver's view out of the windshield, it gives drivers additional visual information beyond what their eyes are capable of seeing. Night Vision helps the driver detect potentially dangerous situations well beyond the normal headlight range.

The extra vision extends three-to-five times the range of low-beam headlights and twice the range of high-beam headlights.

At 100 kilometers per hour, normal headlights provide a driver about 3 seconds to react to an object ahead. With Night Vision, the driver will have up to 15 seconds to react. "That's a truly significant difference," said O'Reilly.

In addition, Night Vision can help enhance personal security. For example, as a DeVille driver pulls into a driveway, the system can help detect a person hiding in the bushes or out of the range of the headlights.

How Night Vision Works

Night Vision uses thermal-imaging, or infrared, technology to create pictures based on heat energy emitted by objects in the viewed scene.

Everything emits heat to some degree. But humans, animals and moving vehicles emit enough heat energy to contrast sharply with their surroundings when viewed with Cadillac's Night Vision equipment.

Night Vision uses a grille-mounted, infrared camera that's about 3 inches in diameter to view the path ahead. The virtual image that is produced looks something like a black and white photographic negative -- hotter objects appear white and cooler objects appear black. Objects such as people, animals and running vehicles stand out from the black background of the night.

Because the virtual image is projected by a head-up display rather than on a flat screen mounted in the car, Cadillac's Night Vision helps drivers keep their eyes on the road and hands on the wheel. The image is projected near the front edge of the hood -- in the driver's peripheral vision -- and was designed not to obstruct the view of the road.

The image has a horizontal field of view of 11 degrees and a vertical field of view of 4 degrees. Objects in the image are the same size as the objects in the road scene, helping the driver relate the image to the road scene and judge the distance to an object.

Using a switch in the instrument panel, drivers can turn the system on or off, and they also can adjust the image intensity and image vertical position.