BMW has revealed two new systems to help keep drivers safe in the dark.
Night Vision and High-Beam Assistant will make their debuts on 5, 6 and 7 Series models later this year. Night Vision uses infrared imaging to make pedestrians, animals and other heat-emitting objects more visible to the driver up to 300 metres ahead of the car. Clear images of any potential hazards are displayed on the car's iDrive control screen.
BMW claims that the Night Vision system extends the driver's awareness from the standard 150 metres of road illuminated by the bi-xenon headlamps on the 5, 6 and 7 Series. The type of infrared camera used also means the system is not confused by oncoming vehicle lights, street lamps or traffic lights.
In a linked development, the new High-Beam Assistant will help drivers deal more easily with oncoming vehicles in the dark. Sensors on the front of the car automatically switch the headlights between high- and low-beam settings, creating less driver distraction, and ensuring the full-beam is used whenever possible. The car's headlights will automatically dip when it detects oncoming vehicles, street lamps, or even cyclists' lights.
Road safety research from Germany and the US indicates that drivers not having enough information about the road ahead causes around 50% of serious accidents. Similarly, while the majority of driving is done in daylight hours, a disproportionate 50% of fatal accidents occur in the dark.
High-Beam Assistant will be available as a £95 option from September, while prices have yet to be confirmed for the Night Vision system - likely to follow towards the end of the year.
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