As every cyclist is aware, the blind spots caused by a car’s roof pillars can be very dangerous. Although companies are doing some work on various high-tech solutions for this issue, a 14-year-old from Pennsylvania has taken a more low-tech approach to come up with an ingenious fix for the issue.
Alaina Gassler of West Grove came up with the vision for the project after observing her mother having a hard time with blind spots while driving. Gassler would then put a webcam on the outer roof pillar of a vehicle that could record everything which was masked from the driver’s view. Then, she used a projector to show the live feed from the webcam onto the interior pillar, with 3D-printed parts aligning the picture exactly between the window and the windshield.
The approach is startlingly efficient, with the car pillars appearing nearly translucent and the driver easily able to see into the blind spots even when the car is in motion. Gassler stated that she used reflective fabric to make the image brighter and more clear and to reflect the image only to the driver.
For her contributions, Gassler won the top award at the Broadcom Masters science and engineering competition for middle schoolers and has been also awarded a $25,000 prize. With her use of fairly simple and affordable materials, her idea could ultimately make its way into commercial vehicles as a conventional safety feature.