Intelligent Headlights Make Raindrops Disappear

A camera finds individual drops, then a projector blacks them out of the driver's view.

Anyone who's ever driven through a heavy rain has hoped for something like this: a system that can make rain drops vanish--or at least look like they do.

Intel and Carnegie Mellon University have developed technology that makes it happen, CNET reports. Each headlight projects not just a single beam, but a grid of several tiny beams (that's how the different-colored pixels are projected on the screen when there's actually an image being shown).

A camera behind the projector watches for raindrops, and a processor predicts their paths. Then the projector blocks out just the part of the grid where the rain is falling, darkening just the pixels in its way. Presto: a rainless view.

Intel says it'll be available in a decade, and even though it's not quite perfect--some drops still look like they sneak through, at least at the top of the driver's range of vision--it seems like a major safety improvement from windshield wipers and a prayer.