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Sunday, May 21, 2006

Cars with Night Vision

Science, Shopping, Tech

Popular Science recently conducted a test of Mercedes-Benz (see picture on right) and BMW's new infrared night vision systems. What they found was pretty impressive. Both use infrared to detect obstacles; however they differ in applications.

The Mercedes-Benz projects near-infrared light almost 50 feet down the road. The light is invisible to the eye but reflects off objects and is detected by a camera. The image is then displayed on a very bright screen in the instrument panel.

The BMW uses passive infrared technology, a thermal imaging camera detects heat from objects nearly 1,000 feet away. The dashboard screen is not as bright as the Benz, but detects people and animals much better.


  • The Benz picks up stationary objects from 130 yards away, but the screen is so bright it is hard to tell what you are looking at.
  • The BMW picks up stationary objects from only 37 yards away, animals and people were much easier to pick out because of the heat detection.

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