Jaguar Land Rover has launched a research project to develop technologies that will offer drivers a 360 degree view out of their vehicle, uninterrupted by the pillars that support the roof.
A screen would be embedded in the surface of each pillar inside the car and would take a live video feed from cameras covering the angles outside the car usually obscured in the blind spots created by the A, B and C-pillars.
Pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles would be visible all around the car - and by combining the transparent pillars with an advanced high quality Heads-Up display, the movement of other road users could be highlighted to the driver with an on-screen halo moving across the car's virtual windscreen.
When the driver indicates to change direction, when they move their head to look over their shoulder during an overtake manoeuvre, or as the vehicle approaches a junction, the system would automatically make the left or right-hand side pillars transparent.
Dr Wolfgang Epple, the Director of Research and Technology at Jaguar Land Rover, said: "Our ultimate aim is to reduce the potential for accidents and enhance the urban driving experience. The Jaguar Land Rover research team is developing this technology to improve visibility and to give the driver with the right information at the right time."
"If we can keep the driver's eyes on the road ahead and present information in a non-distracting way, we can help drivers make better decisions in the most demanding and congested driving environments."
The full potential for the 360 Virtual Urban Windscreen would be delivered by connecting the virtual windscreen to the Cloud. By connecting the car to roadside infrastructure and businesses in the urban landscape, the Virtual Urban Windscreen could present information ranging from petrol station prices to the number of parking spaces available, so drivers won't have to look for this information themselves.
The connected car could also enhance navigation by advising the driver to turn left or right at more visible landmarks, such as pubs or shops, rather than just road signs or street names.
While the most intuitive and efficient way to navigate to a specific location is to be able to follow someone who knows the best route - so the Jaguar Land Rover team is developing ‘Follow-Me Ghost Car Navigation', which projects an image of a vehicle in front of the driver's car for them to follow, turn by turn, to their destination.
"Driving on city streets can be a stressful experience, but imagine being able to drive across town without having to look at road signs, or be distracted trying to locate a parking space as you drive by," added Dr Epple. "We want to present all of this information on a Heads-Up Display in the driver's eye-line, so the driver doesn't have to seek it out for themselves and take their eyes off the road ahead."