DaimlerChrysler .gif” width=”159″ height=”86″ align=”right” hspace=”10″ vspace=”10″ />DaimlerChrysler used the Eyes and the Auto conference at its Design Dome in Auburn Hills, Michigan, to this week unveil a Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with an active night vision system claimed to be unique.

The system is said to be capable of illuminating objects up to 500 feet (about 300 metres) in front of the vehicle.

The system, developed by researchers in Ulm, Germany, is said to detect all objects in the field of view, regardless of temperature.

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Two laser headlights on the front of the vehicle illuminate the road with infrared light, and a digital camera records the reflected image.

The infrared image is projected in black and white onto a liquid crystal display screen located behind the instrument cluster.

The system reaches beyond the 130-foot range of conventional high-beam headlights and, because infrared energy is invisible to the human eye, does not distract oncoming drivers.

“This system enhances the night vision of drivers and thus makes night driving safer, especially for older drivers whose night vision may be less acute,” said DaimlerChrysler manager of electronic product innovation Steve Buckley.

So what sets D-C’s system apart from, say, Jaguar ‘s latest experimental version?

Other current night vision systems are ‘passive’ in that they sense the infrared energy emitted by objects, but they may miss objects that are at the same temperature as the surrounding environment, such as road signs or debris.

The system could significantly reduce dangers of night driving, such as poor visibility and/or the distraction of headlights of oncoming vehicles.

It is being tested in several vehicles and will eventually be installed in luxury passenger models, buses, trucks, emergency service vehicles and taxis.

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