In the automotive world, advances in technology are continuous. R&D keeps pushing towards the edge of the envelope in all aspects of car design to provide motorists with a better, safer and more enjoyable drive. However, it takes time for some new technologies to reach the consumer because they need to be thoroughly tested, especially in different and extreme conditions, to ensure that they are reliable and durable for the many years that a vehicle will be in use.
One example of the development of a technology advancement is the ClearSight Ground View in the latest Range Rover Evoque launched in Malaysia recently. This technology, known as the ‘Transparent Bonnet’, was first shown to the public as a feature on the Land Rover Discovery Vision Concept at the 2014 New York Auto Show. It was among the pioneering technologies from Jaguar Land Rover’s advanced research division.
The idea behind the ClearSight Ground View was to make the bonnet ‘invisible’ so that the driver would see the ground ahead – certainly something useful in off-road driving. At that time, it seemed like just ‘concept car stuff’… something fantastic to wow the visitors with but perhaps not really possible to commercialise.
But Land Rover was actually going to offer such a technology in its vehicles, starting with the Range Rover Evoque. It would be a world-first technology that would make driving over difficult terrain safer. Tree stumps, rocks, potholes and other hazards on the ground ahead under the vehicle would be visible so avoiding action could be taken earlier.
How it works
ClearSight Ground View uses cameras in the front grille and on the door mirrors for real-time imagery of the ground ahead. The coverage by the cameras is1 80 degrees forward at speeds up to 30 km/h.
A computer program creates a virtual representation of the terrain ahead, an augmented view of reality to help the driver tackle anything from the toughest off-road route to the tight confines of an urban car park.
The original concept of the Transparent Bonnet had the image projected onto the windscreen ahead of the driver, the same way as a Head-Up Display is projected. However, that would be a more expensive approach so to moderate costs, the image is shown on the large centre Touchscreen.
For better situational awareness
ClearSight Ground View is complemented by the 360° Surround Camera and ClearSight Rearview Mirror to greatly expand the driver’s situation awareness of what’s around the vehicle. The 360° Surround Camera gives a digitally created image from directly above the vehicle using four tiny cameras around the vehicle body The images are stitched together by a computer program to create the view that is like what might be seen from a drone hovering a few metres above.
ClearSight Rearview Mirror is a more versatile rearview mirror which incorporates HD imagery. In normal use, it operates like a conventional rearview mirror, providing a clear and dazzle-free view of the back of the vehicle. When required, a flip of a switch on the underside changes its view to that of a digital image from a camera in the rear door with a wider field of vision.
Most rearview camera systems mounted on the rear door often use a fish-eye lens to get the widest possible coverage. However, in many cases, the image is distorted which can make judging distances difficult.
The ClearSight Rearview Mirror image has a proportional and undistorted view and besides being also capable in low light conditions, its brightness can also be adjusted. Furthermore, by displaying a rear-facing camera feed onto the mirror, the driver’s view remains unrestricted by passengers or large items in the back.