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Cadillac's Night Vision
by Rick Smith

Cadillac plans to be the first auto manufacturer to bring the safety benefits of "Night Vision" to the 2000 DeVille. This option will help improve the driver's ability to detect (and hopefully avoid) dangerous situations where live objects and objects beyond the range or angle of their headlights are concerned.

Depending on conditions, Night Vision will allow drivers to see 3 to 5 times farther than low beam headlights and can also help drivers see beyond headlight glare from oncoming traffic. Although I haven't seen the actual image in a real car, the simulation videos I have seen are quite impressive. It should give driver's a few more critical seconds to make an informed decision to avoid a possible catastrophe.

With Night Vision, it will now be easier to see:

  • someone changing a tire on the side of the road
  • an animal IN the roadway
  • someone hiding in the bushes near your driveway.
  • a jogger that isn't wearing reflective clothing.
  • a deer on the side of the roadway.

    By using thermal imaging or infrared technology similar to that used by military forces during the Gulf War and FLIR (Forward Looking Infra Red) technology used by police departments on most helicopters, Night Vision gives drivers additional visual information beyond what their eyes are capable of seeing. This "thermal imaging" technology creates an image based on the amount of heat energy that is emitted by object. Most objects emit some heat, but LIVE objects and other automobiles tend to be more visible because of the "heat" contrast between them and the other background objects. To the driver, this image appears like a photographic negative where hotter objects are whiter and cooler objects are black. Instead of putting this image on a separate console display, Cadillac has placed it on a heads up display, so the driver can keep focused on the road and see this image at the SAME time as they are driving WITHOUT having to move their head or eyes. This virtual image is projected to appear near the front edge of the car's hood, so it won't obstruct the view of the road.

    Night Vision functions only when the key is ON, the Twilight Sentinel indicates that it is dark outside and the headlamps are switched on. The driver can turn the system on and off by using a switch on the instrument panel, along with being able to adjust the image intensity and vertical position. Since it takes a few moments for this option to warm up, the Night Vision logo is displayed until ready.

    Dated: March 1999

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    Copyright 1999 Rick Smith
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