Have you been caught driving in the rain and could not see a foot in front of you? One day, smart headlights might make that a thing of the past.

A team of experts from chipmaker Intel and Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh have come up with ingenious futuristic smart headlights which render raindrops vanish or at least invisible.

Rain affects driver visibility, especially at night and it can prove to be a big distraction. The new smart headlight lighting does away with regular bulbs which beam light onto the darkened road and replaces them with a projector and camera.

This set-up monitors the droplets as they enter the headlight beam and sends the data to a processing unit which estimates where each individual droplet is headed.

The falling raindrops are then blotted out with projected light in order to present the driver with a rainless field of vision.

”Processing the information takes only 13 milliseconds”, says the chipmaker. The camera and projector needed take up a fair bit of space in the car and these will need to be drastically downsized before the technology could be installed into production cars.

Intel says the rain adaptive  smart headlights may appear on vehicles within 10 years.

Though a smart headlight system will never be able to eliminate all precipitation from the driver’s field of view, simply reducing the amount of reflection and distortion caused by precipitation can substantially improve visibility and reduce driver distraction. Another benefit is that the system also can detect oncoming cars and direct the headlight beams away from the eyes of those drivers, eliminating the need to shift from high to low beams.

AAP and Carnegie Media Release