Gone are the days of strapping extended mirrors to your car to enable you to see what’s going on behind your w-i-d-e caravan. Ditto craning your neck to see if you can safely move back into the lane after overtaking. Transparent Trailer, a camera system developed by Land Rover, puts the driver back in the picture by eliminating blind spots.
Transparent Trailer combines the wireless video feed from a camera located on the rear of the towed object (caravan or trailer) with the feed from the vehicle’s existing reversing camera. The effect of that is to make the trailer effectively “see-through”.
Says Jaguar and Land Rover Director of Research and Technology Dr Wolfgang Epple: “When you are overtaking, it is instinctive to check your mirrors, but if you are towing your vision is often restricted, with large blind spots. Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter its size or shape.”
But Land Rover didn’t stop there. They’ve also created a trailer monitoring system that assists in loading cargo uniformly to make sure the weight is distributed evenly. It has another trick: it keeps an eye on what is happening on the inside. Using a video camera and a mat of pressure sensors on the floor of the trailer, the driver can keep an eye on possibly shifting cargo or horses being transported.
The idea of “see-through” vehicles to increase safety seems to be the way many manufacturers are heading, especially as many institutions report overtaking as a major factor in collisions. The UK’s road safety charity, Brake, and Direct Line insurance reported earlier this year that one in seven drivers disclosed they were forced to swerve to avoid accidents by reckless overtakers, while locally Arrive Alive has listed “dangerous, reckless and/or inconsiderate driving, particularly barrier line infringements” as one of the main causes of accidents.
Earlier this year Samsung revealed their Safety Truck concept, in which a front-mounted camera feeds what it sees to a giant display on the back of a truck in real time. This gives motorists a clear view of any oncoming traffic for safe overtaking.
Image and video credit: Land Rover