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BMW Night Vision

Australian accident statistics show that driving at night represents a significant potential danger with some 45 per cent of fatal road accidents occurring at night, even though more than two thirds of all driving is done during the day.

An innovative driver assistance system from BMW, now available as an option in the top-of-the-range 7 Series, will enable drivers to better identify people at night on country roads and dark garage driveways.

The thermal imaging-based technology will in the near future become available in the 5 Series Sedan, 5 Series Touring, 6 Series Coupé, and 6 Series Convertible, opening up this new driver assistance system to an even larger group of Australian drivers.

“Driving in the dark is still one of the most strenuous driving situations and one which tends to bear greater risks,” said Franz Sauter, BMW Group Australia Managing Director.

“Figures from the Australian Transport Safety Bureau show that over 45 per cent of fatal crashes in the last two years occurred at night. BMW Night Vision can help drivers identify dangerous situations on the road at night much earlier in certain situations.

“BMW’s engineers have opted for a thermal imaging approach that places greater focus on detecting people and animals. Objects which radiate heat and which are thus potentially at danger are shown particularly bright and are therefore drawn to the attention of the driver.

“In urban areas lighting is usually sufficient for drivers to recognise dangers in time with the naked eye, but BMW Night Vision really comes into its own out on country roads where pedestrians, cyclists and animals can be detected earlier.

“The system also has advantages on unlit streets or dark courtyards and poorly lit car parks,” he said.

Infra-red technology incorporating a thermal imaging camera for extra safety in the dark. Driver support and active partner protection in one.

BMW Night Vision provides a new dimension of optical perception when driving at night. A thermal imaging camera detects human beings, animals and objects in front of the car before they become visible to the human eye in the headlights.

The image generated by the system is trans¬mitted to the central Control Display within the car presenting objects detected with increasing brightness as a function of the heat detected by the camera – and therefore making human beings and animals particularly conspicuous.

The thermal imaging camera covers a range of up to 300 metres or almost 1,000 feet ahead of the car. BMW Night Vision therefore offers the customer particular benefits when driving over land, down narrow lanes, through gateways leading into courtyards, and into dark under¬ground garages, significantly enhancing driving safety at night.

With BMW Night Vision and High-Beam Assist, which switches the high beam on and off automatically after activation via the stalk on the steering column in the 3, 5, 6, and 7 Series, BMW is making yet a further contribution to the enhance¬ment of traffic safety by means of innovations in technology. Both sys¬tems assist the driver in the dark, that is in a situation which requires a particularly high level of concentration. In this way BMW Night Vision and the High-Beam Assist also offer a considerable improvement of motoring comfort.

BMW opts for Far Infra-Red technology (FIR). Thermal imaging camera for enhanced detection of human beings and animals.

Conducting comparative studies and carefully observing independent scientific examinations, BMW’s engineers have opted in favour of innovative far infra-red technology (FIR), most efficient in detecting persons, animals and objects at night. FIR offers the following benefits:

    Reduction to the essential - Far infra-red technology uses a thermal imaging camera high¬lighting in particular persons, animals and objects radiating higher temperatures. FIR intentionally does not present a detailed image of the respective traffic situation, which would only delay the recognition of a human being within the overall image. In other words, insig¬nificant details are cancelled out and do not distract the driver.

    FIR enables the driver “to look further” - Covering a range of approximately 300 metres or almost 1,000 feet, FIR “looks” about twice as far as other systems. Hence, the driver is informed earlier on possible hazards – up to 5 seconds earlier at a speed of 100 km/h.

    FIR cannot be “dazzled” - FIR cannot be dazzled by the headlights of oncoming traffic, by traffic lights, road lights and highly reflective surfaces such as traffic signs. And vehicles with FIR technology do not dazzle each other.

Over and above the advantages offered by the FIR principle from the start, BMW has enhanced this technology by adding further functions.

The image presented follows the road in a panning process and distant objects can be shown larger as a function of speed (zooming).

Convenient use of BMW Night Vision like looking in the interior mirror.

BMW Night Vision presents a high-contrast black-and-white night image to the driver on the Control Display in the middle of the instrument panel. Benefiting from FIR technology, the driver only has to briefly check the Display in order to recognise a hazard. So using BMW Night Vision is comparable to looking into the interior mirror in the car.

Examining the new system, BMW also considered the option to present the image in the driver’s primary field of vision, for example in the Head-Up Display or in the instrument cluster, but this option was rejected for ergonomic reasons. Tests have shown that the combination of real-life and virtual images irritates the driver and is not the best solution.

BMW Night Vision in the 7 Series will sell in Australia for $4,000.

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