Far ahead of the range visible to the driver, something lurks on the side of the road. A pedestrian or an animal—it’s impossible to say in the darkness. In such situations, the new Night Vision Assist from Porsche can make all the difference.
The LED matrix headlights of the Porsche Panamera bathe nighttime country roads in light as bright as day. The Gran Turismo features active continuous main beam headlights: the Porsche Dynamic Light System Plus (PDLS Plus). The intelligently controlled lights reach up to two hundred yards into the night. The Night Vision Assist can even see an astonishing one hundred yards further into the darkness, detecting people and larger animals not yet visible in the headlights—and giving the driver sufficient advance warning. Thanks to the assist system, the Porsche can then brake in time and slowly pass the hazardous area.
Here’s how the Night Vision Assist works: a thermal imaging camera in the front of the Panamera registers the infrared radiation emitted by all living objects. A control unit calculates a differential thermal image and feeds it to the right-hand “Car & Info” display in the instrument cluster. As soon as the thermal imaging camera detects people or animals, they’re clearly highlighted in a yellow frame in the otherwise black-and-white image. The driver intuitively notices the color changes and is thereby forewarned. If the situation is classified as a hazard, the marking changes from yellow to red. Even if another function of the Porsche Communication Management (PCM) system is currently active in the respective display, the PCM automatically shows the image from the Night Vision Assist in case of danger. Unnoticed by the driver, the brakes are primed in order to allow the Porsche to stop as quickly as possible, if needed. At the same time, a symbol with a pedestrian or an animal warning is displayed to the left of the tachometer in the “Speed & Assist” instrument.
So the system is capable of distinguishing people and animals—an important feature in view of the unpredictability of wild animals. Simultaneously, an audible warning is issued. The PDLS Plus briefly flashes the lights at pedestrians three times (matrix beam function) as soon as the Night Vision Assist identifies them as being in danger. They scarcely notice the flashes but are much more visible to the driver. The PDLS Plus doesn’t flash the lights at animals, however, as they could be startled by it and pose an even greater hazard.
The Night Vision Assist switches on automatically in darkness and is active up to a speed of 155 mph. The animal warning function is automatically deactivated in urban areas in order to prevent false alarms triggered by dogs on leashes and the like. And technological heat sources such as a recently ridden motorcycle always leave the Night Vision Assist cold.
By Thomas Fuths
Illustration ROCKET & WINK