The employee magazine
of the Volkswagen brand


Deer Crossing!

With the Night Vision assist system, the 
new Touareg1 can see in the dark. Developer Nils Winter explains how 
that can help prevent accidents.

A deer suddenly appears in the headlights. Too late to brake. There’s no stopping the accident now. There’s a bang.

Things are going to be different in the future. Physicist Nils Winter co-developed the Night Vision assist system for precisely this purpose. It was first used a few months ago in the Chinese luxury 
sedan, Phideon. Night 
Vision is now celebrating its European premiere in the new Touareg.

Night Vision works like a third eye for 
the driver. The heart of the system is a thermal ­imaging camera mounted on the radiator. It can see over 100 meters ahead, can detect body heat via infrared, and processes these signals in the control unit. "That way, you can see the outlines of people and animals, calculate how far away an object is and where it’s moving to," says Winter.

For safe driving at night: Night Vision uses infrared to help the driver see and, in the case of an impending animal-vehicle crash, to react early.

The image is transferred to the instrument cluster in the 
cockpit. The Night Vision assistant automatically
marks impending obstacles with colors, based on the level of risk. Yellow means no danger, like a pedestrian walking on the sidewalk. When red obstacles appear, Night Vision intervenes. It activates a warning light with a brake symbol and emits a high-pitched warning noise. What’s more, it also warns people in the danger zone with a short, targeted illumination of the LED headlights.

"The assistant has to be able to detect and evaluate the risk," says Winter. Ultimately, however, 
it’s down to the driver. "They decide what to do," the 
33-year-old explains. The assistant does not brake independently. However, it does prepare everything for the worst-case scenario. It also keeps an eye on obstacles until the risk of collision is over.