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Oh, Deer: BMW Adding Animal Detection to Dynamic Light Spot Feature

Sections: Car Safety

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BMW's night vision camera display

BMW’s night vision collision avoidance system intends to help drivers avoid striking not just pedestrians, but also wildlife now with new tweaks to be shown at the Geneva Auto Show in March. (Photo courtesy BMW.)

Europe is big on pedestrian safety. Thank that attitude for much of the impetus behind BMW’s Dynamic Light Spot technology designed to selectively determine when a pedestrian is in the road and illuminate him. Now, the Bavarians are tweaking the technology to help you avoid running over humans and wildlife.

According to a press release from BMW, the new animal detection feature within the brand’s ConnectedDrive Dynamic Light Spot technology will be showcased at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show to be held in Switzerland in March.

BMW says the car is able to detect possible animal activity on the roadway beyond the reach of the headlights by using an infrared thermal imaging camera mounted in the signature BMW twin-kidney grille. That camera can detect heat signatures from up to 100 meters away. On top of that, it can distinguish whether the heat signature belongs to a human or an animal based on the amount of heat the signature radiates.

When the Dynamic Light Spot camera senses a likely collision with an animal, the Dynamic Light Spot bulbs start flashing at the animal in question, while the instrument display shows an icon shaped like a deer and the car emits an audible warning tone to the driver.

For pedestrians, the Dynamic Light Spot technology illuminates its two spotlights and points them at the pedestrian who is in danger of being hit. We’ll let BMW’s marketing language explain it from there:

A revolution leading to even more safety at night: BMW Night Vision with Dynamic light spot detects pedestrians in the dark even from a long distance – and selectively illuminates them.

Intelligent early warning system with a bright outlook: as soon as unlit pedestrians on a collision course are detected by the remote infrared sensors, the system directs two separately controllable high-performance light spots onto them. The light very effectively warns drivers and pedestrians of a potentially hazardous situation. When the headlights are dipped, the lenses of the Dynamic light spot lamps are additionally illuminated as design elements.

With thermal imaging activated, the driver receives additional warnings in the multifunctional instrument display or in the BMW Head-Up Display (both optional). In the event of an acute hazard, an acoustic warning sounds as well, and the brakes switch to maximum stand-by mode.

As someone who had a vehicle totaled by a herd of deer  who T-boned me (no lie!), I can wholeheartedly welcome such technology. BMW says the feature will be available starting this summer.

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