Struggling to see cars approaching in the blind spots of your car? This young girl has come up with the most simple, yet ingenious solution.
The science and other stuff to know
Over the years, automakers have been making the pillars on either side of the car’s windshield thicker. And the rationale for this is to prevent cars from collapsing if they flip over during an accident.
While thicker pillars are helpful, they have created pretty significant blind spots which make it difficult to see vehicles approaching. As a result, more than 840,000 blind spot accidents happen each year, resulting in more than 300 deaths, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
However, a 14-year-old girl named Alaina Gassler has come up with a possible fix for that. During the Broadcom MASTERS science fair, Gassler demonstrated that you can eliminate these blind spots by installing a projector that displays the image of the cars approaching.
Her solution involves installing an outward-facing webcam on the outside of the car’s windshield pillar (on the passage side) and then projecting a live feed from that camera onto the inside of that pillar. With costumed 3D-printed parts, the projected image aligns perfectly so that it seamlessly blends with what the driver sees through the passenger window and the windshield, effectively solving this dangerous problem.
Gassler’s invention is part of a project called “Improving Automobile Safety by Removing Blind Spots,” and could help reduce the number of accidents caused by blind spots.
“There are so many car accidents and injuries and deaths that could’ve been prevented from a pillar not being there,” she said in a statement. “And since we can’t take it off cars, I decided to get rid of it without getting rid of it.”
The concept earned the West Grove, Pennsylvania, student first place in the national competition, as well as the $25,000 Samueli Foundation Prize for overall STEM excellence.
While her invention isn’t quite ready to be installed in cars yet, the technology required to implement this project without serving as a distraction to drivers thankfully exists.
Blind spot detection, also known as a Blind Spot Information System, is becoming more common in automobiles. In current automobiles, a light, noise, or vibration notifies drivers when a vehicle or item is in their blind zone, generally with a warning on the side mirrors, but perhaps future cars will incorporate Alaina’s prize-winning idea.