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Engineers Build Smart Headlights That “See Through” Snow and Rain

What’s the perfect accessory for your smart car? Smart headlights, of course.

Researchers have developed a new headlight that can “see” through rain and snow. Using a digital camera, the “reactive illumination” system tracks the movement of individual raindrops and snowflakes as a computer predicts where each will be a few milliseconds later.

Made of an array of smaller bulbs, the headlight instantly switches off any bulb in the precipitation’s way, preventing its light from reflecting off precipitation, while the unaffected bulbs in the array light the road ahead.

Engineers have created headlights that can offer better visibility in rain and snow.

Photo by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

And it works great … if you’re willing to drive 18 mph. This prototype is currently only able to do its trick 50 times per second—impressive but impractical. Also, headlights in an oncoming car will confuse the smart system. But in a few years our headlight technology could be pretty golden. Now, can we get them to make one that automatically turns off the high beams when another car approaches? Human drivers can be so dim.

Video by Paca Thomas.