Researchers from Tianjin University in China have developed a new type of detector to extend a vehicle’s range of sight and detect objects even if they are around an immediate corner or behind a wall. To do this, an advanced light-sensing component–known as a “superconducting nanowire single-photon detector”–is used. Unlike traditional line-of-sight imaging techniques such as LiDAR, non-lineof- sight imaging detects very sensitive imaging points thus allowing for a greater range of visibility detection. According to the researchers from Tianjin University who worked on developing the technology, non-line-of-sight imaging detectors are beneficial to the automotive industry because they could potentially reduce crash risks by allowing vehicles to anticipate surroundings past what a driver could see. The technology could also be used in autonomous vehicles.

“Infrared non-line-of-sight imaging can improve the safety and efficiency of unmanned vehicles by helping them detect and navigate around obstacles that are not directly visible,” said Xiaolong Hu, a researcher from the university whose team helped collaborate on the project.


Ford has filed a patent for a geofencing restriction system that could be used in future vehicles. The patent aims to improve pedestrian-vehicle safety by automatically slowing vehicles down in areas where the speed limit drops. The system outlined in the patent would prevent vehicles from driving into crowds or high-pedestrian traffic areas by establishing geofences around a crowd. To do this, a vehicle with a geofencing feature would detect the presence of the crowd based on several devices, such as smartphones, present in one congested area. The software included in the vehicle would pick up on other tech signatures to be aware of its surroundings. If the system detected that a vehicle was heading toward a crowded area at a higher-than-normal speed, the system would then be able to slow or stop the vehicle, preventing a collision from occurring.

Ford trialled a geofencing speed-control technology in 2022. The tests took place in Cologne, Germany, using an all-electric Ford E-Transit. The OEM suggests that, by geofencing 30/km speed zones around schools, hospitals and other busy pedestrian areas, there could be a “great reduction” in risks to all road users. Image from Ford Media Center.

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