More and more new cars offer driver assistance on the windshield

Hands on the wheel and eyes on the road. That is the basic rule of good drivers. The Head Up Display was born pursuing that purpose

Among so many nomenclatures that modern cars put at the sight of drivers, some acronyms are better known than others and are already part of popular knowledge. ABS, AirBag, AC, are just some of them. Other buttons, physical or tactile, avoid the letters and propose to give the information through a graphic, such as stability control or cruise control.

But for the unsuspecting, there is a button found on some new gen cars that says HUDMany have already burned their papers when they saw it. What is a HUD about?

It is the Head Up Display, or information panel on the driver’s line of sightthat although he began to join the industry of the car in 1989 in the Nissan 240 SX and Máxima modelshas become one of the new solutions adopted by systems ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) that seek to contribute to safer and more informed driving in new generation cars.

This system was copied from a resource that fighter planes had in the Second World Warspecifically the bombers De Havilland Mosquito of the British Royal Air Force (RAF)which was a tool of great value to face the dreaded Luftwaffe Germany. In those aircraft, in front of the pilots’ eyes, a glass allowed the radar data to be reflected and a virtual representation of the horizon, generated through the data of the navigation instruments, so as to avoid taking their eyes off the front.

The HUD is a projector crammed into a box inside the dash, just below the windshield.  The image is projected inverted so that when it is reflected in the glass, it can be read correctly
The HUD is a projector crammed into a box inside the dash, just below the windshield. The image is projected inverted so that when it is reflected in the glass, it can be read correctly

How does a HUD work today?

There are two types of information projection in front of a driver’s view with these devices. The simplest is that of a conventional projector that is inside the dashboard, between the instrument panel and the windshield, and its function is to send digital information that is also available to the driver on its main panel, but with an inverted projectionso that when reflected in the glass, it can be read just like on the conventional screen.

The other way is by projecting that same information on a transparent glass that is born from the top cover of the board, also in front of the user’s view, but on the contrary, it interposes an element between the driver’s eyes and the windshield.

Speed ​​and battery charge, the basic information a driver needs in a hybrid car like the Toyota Prius
Speed ​​and battery charge, the basic information a driver needs in a hybrid car like the Toyota Prius

Infobae’s experience when testing the Toyota Prius and having a brief contact with the VW ID.3 and ID.4 that have this technology, is that the numbers have a very good definition that allows a correct reading and a level of variable lighting that can be manually adjusted or left to automatically adapt to outside light.

In no case does the HUD create any discomfort for the driver, and it effectively fulfills the function of preventing him from having to take his eyes off the road. In fact, depending on the height at which the seat is adjusted, it can also be move that projected image up or downso that at all times it is legible for any driver.

The other way to project information through a HUD is with a glass that rises above the dash at driver's eye level.
The other way to project information through a HUD is with a glass that rises above the dash at driver’s eye level.

But what’s really important about this HUD technology, regardless of the system chosen to broadcast that data, is the amount of information that is provided to whoever has their hands on the wheel. And once again, the issue of the abundance of data comes up again, because to a certain extent they contribute to less distraction, but also They can end up being more distracting than necessary.

Looking ahead does not mean paying attention to traffic in all cases. Y effective HUD should be the one that shows basic data such as speed and autonomy (either electric or internal combustion), and eventually add a warning regarding maximum speed allowed.

The abundance of information can cause the driver to end up being distracted from traffic, an issue to be reviewed in light of the advancement of technology
The abundance of information can cause the driver to end up being distracted from traffic, an issue to be reviewed in light of the advancement of technology

But if we add to this function the route loaded in the browser, the frequency of the tuned radio station, the outside temperature, the distance from the car in front, the kilometers traveled, the average speed, the consumption efficiency or the lateral presence of other cars, oddly enough, can be counterproductive for the driver’s attention.

The path retraced to reach this point is truly complex. The number of functions of modern cars it is such that using them can result in torture while driving. A recent study of a Swedish magazine Vibilagare put to evaluation 11 different vehicles equipped with touch screens, and only one with all its functional controls through buttons.

The 12 cars were taken to a closed airstrip, and their drivers were familiarized with the functions of each model before heading out for comparative testing. Put at 110 km/h, the drivers had to perform the same functions in each vehicle: adjust the climate control, dim the interior lighting and change the radio station.

Basic information contributes to more attentive driving.  The display is clear and well lit at all times
Basic information contributes to more attentive driving. The display is clear and well lit at all times

The car in which these operations took the least time was the classic Volvo V70 from 2005, which took only 10 seconds. The one that demanded the most time was the MG Marvel R, with 44.9 seconds, followed by the BMW iX with 30.4. The angle at which the screens are positioned was one of the variables, and touch sensitivity was another.

Something similar happens with the functions on the steering wheel of cars. Too many commands allow you to do a lot of things without taking your hands off of it, but instead, they force you to take your attention off the road and often also your eyesight. yes they are all “hypothetical improvements” so that the driver has greater safety when driving, but finally what can end up happening is that what is paid the least attention to is precisely the road.

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