However, A-pillars have also
been identified as visual obstructions for the driver. Over the years,
A-pillars have expanded to improve rollover safety and meet more rigorous
federal roof-crush standards. This trend poses an increased hazard to pedestrians
and vulnerable road users easily obscured from the driver’s view.
“Increasing the safety of all
road users, from drivers to pedestrians, is the motivating force behind
innovative Continental technologies like the Virtual A-Pillar,” said Dr.
Karsten Michels, head of Systems & Technology in the Interior division at
Continental, adding that “By pairing and implementing advanced technology in
the vehicle, Continental has created a solution that eliminates the forward
blind spots of the A-pillars, helping to reduce a critical safety hazard
experienced by so many road users.”
Virtual A-pillar provides dynamic perspective of the vehicle
In some situations, depending
on the pillar’s width, a linear distance of over 36 inches can end up being obstructed
at just 12 feet from the pillar. This increases substantially as the distance
from the vehicle grows. As a result, the design of the A-pillar is an important
factor when trying to increase the driver’s forward field of view.
Continental’s Virtual A-Pillar
is designed to address the growing problem on vehicles that need widened front
pillars to meet mandatory safety testing. With new flexible OLED displays and
advanced head tracking, Continental is bringing enhanced visibility to the
driver’s view. Today, drivers are used to compensating for lack of forward
vision by adjusting their position while driving. The Continental Virtual
A-Pillar tracks these movements using an interior camera mounted just above the
steering wheel. At the same time, Continental’s SurroundView camera, mounted on
the vehicle’s exterior, feeds a live video of the vehicle’s external
environment to the OLED displays embedded in the A-pillars. By tracking the
driver’s head movements paired with the exterior live image, the Virtual
A-Pillar offers a dynamic perspective for the driver, giving the driver an
experience more like looking through an extended “window” rather than at a live
More safety for vulnerable road users
“This new technology allows
the driver to see pedestrians and other vehicles approaching from the left and
right, which would have otherwise been blocked by the A-pillar,” Michels added.
With the advancements of camera and display technology, Continental’s Virtual
A-Pillar allows the driver to maintain a direct line of sight when turning left
or right, providing additional safety for cyclists, pedestrians and other
vulnerable road users.