Alaina Gassler, a 14-year-old girl from Pennsylvania, recently made a system that eliminates the blind spot of the A-pillar field, foreign media CNET reported. Alaina’s system uses webcams, projectors, 3D printing adapters and some reflective fabrics to make the vehicle’s A-pillar effectively invisible.
As cars are subject to increasingly stringent rollover protection regulations, their A-pillars are getting wider and wider, resulting in a large range of A-pillar blind spots.
Alaina’s system is to obtain the image from a webcam mounted outside the vehicle and send it to a small projector mounted near the car’s interior sunroof, project the video onto the A-pillar, and use reflective fabric overlays to help make the image clearer.
The system is not completely different from the patent application filed today in October 2018. However, the system is much more complex, relying on a special-shaped screen to display images. Toyota and Jaguar Land Rover are also working on stealth A-pillar technology, but the high school student from Pennsylvania seems to have found the cheapest way to make it work.
Gassler’s use of reverse-reflective fabrics is very clever. Unlike conventional reflective materials, which reflect light in all different directions, backward reflection light reflects light directly back to its light source. It’s not very expensive, and the technology behind it isn’t new – it’s common for cyclists and motorcyclists on safety equipment – but using it here helps reduce the glare that projectors bring to the occupants of their vehicles.
Alaina won the SamuelE Foundation Award and a $25,000 scholarship with her new system. At the Broadcom MASTERS event, Broadcom Chairman Henry Samueli and his wife Susan Samueli presented the award. The winners were announced on Wednesday.