'See-Through Prius' Demoed in Japan
What was billed as a "see-through Prius" was demonstrated at the 2012 Digital Content Expo in Tokyo last week. The system uses the optical-camouflage technology developed by Susumu Tachi, Masahiko Inami and colleagues. Tachi's invisibility cloak captures footage from behind an object, and then projects the background onto the garment.
The "see-through Prius" makes use of the same technology; when the driver looks back, imagery gathered by cameras behind the car is presented on the backseats and interior of the car (which you can just barely see in outline in the picture below). So, the car becomes invisible from the driver's point of view.
(See-through Prius demo)
From the driver's perspective, the back of a car, in this case a Prius, is transparent, thus eliminating blind spots that could conceal hazards...
The technology uses retroreflective materials, which reflect light with little of that light scattering back the way it came. The cloak is embedded with thousands of highly reflective beads to shine light in specific directions, creating the illusion of partial invisibility.
There's little info so far about what kind of gear the Prius was loaded with, and whether the seats were also covered with reflective beads, but it seems to involve a display attached to the driver's headrest.
"The driver will feel like he's driving a glass car," Inami told a Japanese government publication.
Science fiction writers - and comic book writers - have long touted the advantages of the excellent field of view offered by invisible vehicles. Wonder Woman's invisible plane comes to mind, as does the broomstick speeder from Robert Heinlein's 1942 novella Waldo.
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