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JLR developing 'see-through' trailer safety system

Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is developing a trailer concept that completely removes the blind spots created when towing a caravan, horse box or trailer. The 'transparent view' will allow the driver to clearly see vehicles coming up behind them and improve visibility when maneuvering.

The prototype ‘Transparent Trailer’ system combines the video feed from the vehicle’s existing surround camera system, which includes the reversing camera and a camera on each wing mirror, with a video from a digital wireless camera that is placed on the rear of the trailer or caravan. The video feeds are then combined to create the live video images that make the trailer behind appear see-through. When the trailer is coupled to the towing car, the live video feed would automatically appear in the rear view mirror inside the vehicle. When reversing, the driver would also be able to view the camera feed from the back of the caravan or trailer through the infotainment screen, with guidance lines calibrated to help reverse both car and trailer.

“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,” explained Dr Wolfgang Epple, JLR’s director of research and technology. “Our Transparent Trailer project is researching how we could offer a view out of the vehicle unrestricted by your trailer, no matter what its size or shape. Our prototype system offers a very high quality video image with no distortion of other cars or obstructions. This means the driver would have exactly the right information to make safe and effective decisions when driving or maneuvering, making towing safer and less stressful.”

The company is also developing ‘Cargo Sense’, an innovative idea for an in-car trailer monitoring system designed to optimize cargo loading for safer towing. The prototype system combines a remote video camera inside the trailer and a mat of pressure sensors on the floor, that both link wirelessly to the towing vehicle. As well as helping users load cargo evenly and uniformly, the pressure sensitive mat would detect if the cargo is moving around the trailer in an unexpected or abnormal way whilst travelling. The system would send a ‘Check Cargo’ warning to the dashboard infotainment screen to alert the driver to an issue with the load before it becomes serious.

Epple added, “Many of our customers tow valuable cargoes for business and pleasure, so we are researching a range of technologies that would enhance the towing experience and make it safer for the driver. A permanent video feed through to the dashboard from the trailer has the potential to distract the driver from the road ahead. Instead we are developing a more intelligent system that is able to detect a problem within the trailer and warn the driver.”

For a video of the system in action click here

September 2, 2015

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