Written by James Hamel
In a previous report on our time behind the wheel of the only 2016 BMW X5 prototype in the country, we focused our attention on what the driver can see of the outside world via the night vision screen that detects animal and human heat signatures and then shines a light beam that swivels out from the foglamps. The end result is an illuminated human or animal that is easy for the driver to see in front of them. The technology was developed by Autoliv due to the worldwide problem of vehicles colliding with large animals such as deer, elk or moose on dark roads which often times can result in serious injury and possibly death to the human passengers in the moving car not to mention what the animal suffers after being hit by a large SUV. Given the fact that suburbia has encroached ever further into the places where wildlife didn’t have to worry about oncoming traffic is a major contributor to this problem. According to Autoliv’s statistics and those of the IIHS (Insurance Institute of Highway Safety) there are 1.1 million deer related accidents each year alone in this country and 200 deaths. That’s a staggering number that could be brought to zero with this technology.
This doesn’t even take into account the fact that almost 70 percent of pedestrian impacts happen at night so having the ability to see pedestrians in dark clothes is a true blessing. Trust me, I had a drunk pedestrian trip and fall right in front of a car I was driving equipped with this technology and I believe it is the only reason I was able to stop in time. Without question, I believe that pedestrian owes his life to Autoliv’s technology. Funny thing was, he didn’t even notice the spotlight on him as humans never were aware of a light being shined on them during my time testing the 2016 BMW X5 in this video. On the other hand, the spotlights oddly startle animals like deer and dogs standing in the middle of the road making them run out of harms way. I seriously doubt Autoliv could have known this would happen unless their engineers are wizards but this technology is so cool it definitely doesn’t go out of the realm of possibility. Check out our video!