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Japanese Researchers Create Transparent Car

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Prius transparent car

Imagine this Prius…. except transparent

Ever wished your car had better visibility? Sure, some vehicles do pretty well at allowing you to see the majority of your surroundings, and the now-widespread use of rearview cameras makes backing up much easier these days, but there are still parts of the road you’ll never see while sitting in the driver’s seat. A team of Japanese researchers is looking to change all that, though, with the introduction of the world very first transparent car—a Toyota Prius. [ Check out the video to see how it works. ]

Of course, the car isn’t really transparent. From the outside, it looks like a regular ol’ Toyota Prius. But, thanks to a high-tech system developed by researchers at Keio University’s Tachi Lab and Inami Laboratory, the driver gains the ability to see right through the body of the vehicle. The system involves numerous cameras affixed to the outside of the car. The footage from these cameras is loaded to an onboard computer, which uses a projector and mirror to reflect the image to the corresponding part of the vehicle—either the back seat, or the side door.

In order for this to work, the car’s interior surfaces, such as the back seat, ceiling, doors, and dash, are fitted with retroreflective material. Once the exterior images reach the projector, that projector sends light to a half-mirror located behind the driver. The light reflects partly onto the back seat, and partly onto the ceiling, allowing the driver to see both parts of the image through the half-mirror. This allows the driver to be able to see hazards behind the car when looking into the half-mirror, even with a passenger in the back seat.transparent car

This technology is pretty advanced as far as today’s vehicles go, but as it’s perfected and possibly made more widespread, it could be something we see in our vehicles in the coming years. And that would make driving safer than ever before. Watch this space for more news on transparent car technology!