Smaller headlights make rain and snow disappear

John Moe Jul 6, 2012

Some of my favorite tech stories are when people just solve things. Sure, the stories about so and so company now selling so and so gadget are fine, but researchers at Carnegie Mellon University have figured out a way for cars driving at night to look past snowflakes and raindrops: just make the headlights smaller, dummy! Okay, it’s a little more complicated than that, that’s why we have scientists.


The system uses a digital projector to illuminate raindrops at the top of the field of view for a few milliseconds as a processor predicts their path and switch off light rays that would normally hit the drops.
The result is a slightly dimmer headlight, but one that blocks out so much glare from falling rain and snow that visibility improves.
The entire process from capture to reaction takes 13 milliseconds, explains Carnegie Mellon University’s Illumination and Imaging lab where proof-of-concept headlights have been tested.

As someone who lived in Seattle, where – I don’t know if you’ve heard about this – it rains, and as someone who now lives in Minnesota, where – again, this might be news to you – it snows, I find this development very exciting in that I may soon have a lower chance of DYING ON THE ROAD. 

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